BANGOR, Maine — The top two teams in the Eastern Maine Class A schoolgirl soccer Heal Point standings squared off Friday night, and each dominated a half.
The game between the two unbeaten teams lived up to expectations as the Bangor High School girls used a goal from senior midfielder Emily Smith off freshman Megan Conner’s corner with 6:03 left in the first half to upend Mount Ararat of Topsham 1-0.
Bangor improved to 7-0 and leapfrogged 6-1 Mount Ararat into the top spot in the Heal Points standings.
It was Bangor’s sixth shutout.
The game featured exceptional defensive performances by both teams as high-percentage scoring chances were few and far between.
Bangor had a decided edge in play in the first half, outshooting the Eagles 8-1.
But Mount Ararat carried the play in the second half and almost tied it only to see junior midfielder Katie Labbay rattle a 20-yard volley off the crossbar with 24 minutes remaining.
The Eagles kept the pressure on the Rams for most of the half as they pressed for an equalizer, but none of their seven shot attempts required a save from Bangor goalie Emily Gilmore as they missed the net.
The speedy Eagles had a 7-6 edge in shots in the second half.
“We had a lot of opportunities, but we never capitalized on them,” said Mount Ararat senior center back Danielle Krause, who turned in an impressive performance anchoring the Eagles’ back line.
“All of our backs did a great job. They had to or we would have had to settle for a 1-1 tie or a loss,” said Bangor coach Joe Johnson, referring to sisters Anna and Grace Morris, Tiffany Gray, Emily Brookings and Tanner Tripp.
Johnson felt his Rams “wore down a little bit” in the second half because they had a long bus trip Thursday to Oxford Hills in South Paris where they posted a 3-0 win.
It was their third game in five days.
Bangor nearly expanded its lead against the run of play late in the game, but Alli Boulier’s left-footed laser from the left side hit the crossbar with 8:20 left. And moments later, her low cross goalmouth went for nought when nobody was able to tap it into the net.
“It was a great game. They were big, and we were a little shocked in the first half. But we came out in the second half and put a lot of pressure on them,” said Mount Ararat coach Sam Chard.
Smith, left unattended in the middle of the penalty area, scored with a glancing header from the top of the six-yard box.
She said she was surprised she was left open.
“The girl marking me was shorter than me. And it was a beautiful corner,” said Smith whose header nestled into the net to the left of freshman goalie Kate Guerin, who was playing in place of injured junior Lauren Williams.
“I hit it with the side of my head. I was just trying to aim it at the goal,” said Smith. “It’s usually pretty hard for goalies to tell where the ball is going to go off a header.”
Conner said, “I was just looking to put it in the middle.”
Mount Ararat’s lone shot of the first half was a high looping ball by Sierra Gilley that was handled by Bangor goalkeeper Gilmore.
Labbay’s second half volley resulted from a free kick by Krause that deflected to her just beyond the penalty area in the middle of the field.
“I was really hoping it would go in. I thought it was going over the goalie’s head [and under the crossbar]. But sometimes it doesn’t go in,” said Labbay.
“That was scary,” said Grace Morris.
“We knew they were going to be tough,” said Brookings. “We’ve had a really long week, but we did really well to stay through through the end of the game.”
Gilmore finished with one save on eight shots. Guerin had two saves on 14 shots.