BANGOR, Maine — Sometimes the goals not allowed are just as important as those a team scores — and for the Bangor boys soccer team that combination was good enough to claim their second Eastern Maine Class A title in three years.
The top-ranked Rams shook off a strong start by defending regional champion Brunswick thanks to saves at the goal line by defenders Ryan Larochelle and Zane Gray, then got goals from Jacques Larochelle and Cody Cormier after intermission to edge the Dragons 2-0 in Wednesday’s regional final.
The win advances Bangor (15-0-1) to Saturday’s 1 p.m. state final at McMann Field in Bath against Western Maine champion Scarborough. Bangor edged the Red Storm 1-0-in the 2006 state championship game.
No. 2 Brunswick (14-2-1) controlled play early and nearly scored seven minutes into the match only to be denied when Ryan Larochelle cleared a shot off the goal line after a Dragons’ corner kick.
The Dragons had a similar chance later in the half after a direct kick from near midfield by Max Rosner, but this time Gray was stationed at the near post to clear the ball away.
“We didn’t quite get the start we wanted,” said Larochelle. “We weren’t getting any momentum, any flow, so Zane and I hung back a little bit, and thank God we were on the post.”
Those saves enabled Bangor to get to halftime in a 0-0 tie, and then use the intermission to regroup.
“I think [Brunswick] just came out with more passion and more fire,” said Bangor midfielder Dan Taft. “They wanted it more in the first half, to be honest with you, but we weathered the storm and were able to pick it up and gather ourselves in the second half.”
Bangor’s renewed spirit was rewarded 11:03 after the break, just after the Dragons’ Justin Rosner was issued a yellow card after tripping Bangor’s Johnny Warren about 30 yards from the goal.
Mack Susi grounded the restart ahead to Jacques Larochelle, who turned quickly near the 18-yard line and drilled a low shot inside the near post.
“We had everyone else on the right side of the box and I saw Jacques right at the front and no one was in front of him,” said Susi. “I knew if I played a low ball Jacques would be able to get to it and he luckily got his foot on it and it went right in.”
Cormier added an insurance goal with 18:29 left, converting on a give-and-go with teammate Phil Frost.
“I felt like our team was playing a little back and there was a gap between their midfield and the defense, so I thought it was an opportunity to get in front of that,” said Cormier. “Phil carried it and I saw the opening and yelled for him to give it through and I got the shot off.”
Ryan Larochelle made one more save along the goal line as Brunswick applied pressure in the waning minutes, and Bangor goalie Bud Angst finished with seven saves.
Peter Morrell made three saves and Zachary McMillan made one save for second-seeded Brunswick.
“Tonight we were playing against a very good team, and we were the team doing a lot of defending,” said Bangor coach David Patterson. “We were certainly challenged and I was really pleased with how the boys responded to that defensively.”