|Machias Memorial High School||Bangor Christian Schools|
HAMPDEN, Maine — Machias knew exactly what it was getting into for Friday’s Eastern Maine Class D soccer semifinal against Bangor Christian.
The three-time defending state champion Patriots had shut out the Bulldogs twice during the regular season. That dynamic didn’t change.
Kyle Holmes scored a goal 18 minutes into the first half and top-seeded Bangor Christian dominated during a 2-0 victory over No. 4 Machias on the artificial turf at Hampden Academy.
Coach Aaron Wilcox’s Patriots (16-0) posted their 13th straight shutout and ran their record to 40-0 since a loss at Penquis of Milo on Oct. 11, 2010.
“We just try to possess it, spread things out, keep attacking, keep the pressure on and make them make mistakes,” Wilcox said. “Eventually, you’re going to get something.”
Bangor Christian faces No. 3 Ashland, a 4-2 winner over No. 7 Central Aroostook of Mars Hill, in the Oct. 31 regional final.
Coach Bob Sinford’s Bulldogs finished the season at 9-5-2.
The Patriots controlled play all afternoon. Their slick ballhandling and precision passing in the midfield helped them keep the Bulldogs pinned in their end.
Senior forward Rem Poulin helped generate crisp passing and movement in the midfield, where Sam Proctor, Kyle Holmes and Ben Bragg were key contributors.
“We like to attack quickly and aggressively,” said junior back Ben Miller, who had the second goal. “We don’t like it on our half [of the field] at all.”
Bangor Christian’s ability to dictate field position helped it outshoot Machias by a 29-5 margin and emerge with a 12-2 advantage in penalty kicks.
“They pass and move a little better than we do and they understand what each other’s going to do a little bit better,” Sinford said. “It was a great year and I was proud of the kids.”
Senior A.J. Dolley came up with nine saves for the Bulldogs and played aggressively throughout. He was supported by hustling sweeper Ryley Gray and back Dylan Baker.
Bryon Boutot had to make only two saves for the Patriots, while backup Caleb Peary did not face any shots playing behind Zac Palmeter and Jeremy Miller.
The Patriots broke the scoreless deadlock with 22:04 to play in the first half. Poulin fired a low shot from just outside the 18 that was saved by Dolley. He could not control the rebound and Holmes knocked it in.
“Coach all year has been telling us to attack the goal,” Holmes said. “It got knocked down right in front of [Dolley] and I had to get it high enough to get it above him, but not too high to go over.”
Machias nearly equalized less than five minutes later when Boutot came outside the penalty area in an attempt to snare a long volley by Finn Janssen. Instead, the ball bounced out to Josh Scoville, who spun quickly and lofted a shot toward the goal.
BC’s Seth Pearson was in position to head it off the goal line.
The Bulldogs had a couple of other legitimate threats during the first 10 minutes of the second half, but BC was able to clear the ball both times.
Dolley’s lunging one-handed save of a Holmes one-timer kept the game 1-0, but BC notched an insurance goal on the ensuing corner kick with 25:17 left.
Bragg served a corner kick into the box, where Miller jumped up and quickly headed the ball down to the ground.
“Ben Bragg kicked it from the corner and I hit it right down off the goalie’s foot and in,” said Miller, who gave some perspective on BC’s success.
“We don’t play for ourselves, so we don’t play selfishly. We play for God,” he said.
The Patriots held the lead over the final 25:17 by maintaining their attacking style.