BRUNSWICK, Maine — It was just about the last thing Hampden Academy needed.
After dropping its first meeting against the No. 7 Brunswick Dragons by five goals, the visiting No. 10 Broncos needed a strong start in this Class A North prelim. Instead, they got a nightmare.
Just two minutes in, the Dragons earned a free kick outside the box set up in front of the goal. Kian Murray lofted the ball in and watched Hampden goalkeeper Andrew Farnham move off his line and reach up for the ball. As players backed off, the ball skimmed off his hands and rolled into the net.
Brunswick built off the early lead and went on to cruise to a 4-0 win that sent coach Mark Roma and company into the quarterfinals. They’ll visit second-ranked Bangor at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“You take any goal you can get, especially the way our season has gone,” Roma said. “They’re a dangerous team. I knew that if we gave them a goal or gave them any reason to hope, it was going to be a whole new game. I’m proud of the guys for the way they finished.”
For a solid 20 minutes after the opening own-goal, Hampden (4-11) responded well and was right in the thick of things on the ball. Brunswick (6-6-3) was never in any real danger, but the Dragons were often stopped short and forced to defend their own box. Neither happened very much in the first meeting on Sept. 23.
“It was a cold night, so we each had to get in our groove and get warmed up,” Brunswick senior forward Carlyle Boyle said. “At first, they were coming in great and hard. They had great tackling in the midfield, and they caught us off guard, but we just played our game, kept our heads up and kept slotting those balls through to get the goals.”
Then came Brunswick senior captain Henry Doherty. By far the tallest player on the pitch, Doherty was gunning for goal again on a free kick in the 33rd minute, after putting a header on frame just minutes before. On this attempt, he launched up over the Broncos’ defenders and redirected a looping delivery from Murray right over Farnham’s head for a 2-0 lead.
Less than five minutes later, Brunswick goalkeeper Josh Dorr launched a goal kick down the field and watched it bounce up toward Boyle on the right wing. After a slight touch from the defender, Boyle loaded up and struck the ball past a charging Farnham into the side netting.
“I was just reacting to the ball,” Boyle said. “Josh [Dorr] had a great punt, and it had a bounce, and I just hit it. It went in.”
From there, Brunswick, which took 10 of the 11 total shots in the first half, was in total control.
For Hampden senior Josh Redmond, like the regular season meeting, there was only so much to be done on Monday night. He’s one of just a handful of seniors on a roster that has very little experience compared to Brunswick. Numbers and tactics aside, it’s a huge disadvantage.
“They’ve got an older team than we do,” Redmond said. “That’s what it comes down to, I guess. We came out here, we did our best.”
Still, Redmond eyes the future and said the match is a step in the right direction for the program.
“It’s obviously a huge deal because we all really love soccer,” he said of the playoff appearance. “There are so many sophomores on the team — it’s just a great chance to play against a good team, because they’ll be here for years to come.”