BANGOR, Maine — There are very few soccer programs that have won as many games as the Bangor High School girls the past three seasons.
Bangor has gone 49-3-2 en route to three consecutive Eastern Maine Class A championships and a state title in 2011.
The Rams lost to Scarborough 2-1 in double overtime in this year’s state final.
Bangor coach Joe Johnson will have some rebuilding to do, but he expects to be back in the hunt for a state title again next season.
“I’m looking forward to it already. I think we’ll be pretty competitive,” said Johnson. “We have a bunch of young kids who played quite a bit this year and I understand we’ll have some good freshmen coming in. We’ll return most of our back line and we’ll get Tiffany back.”
Johnson was referring to standout shut-down defender Tiffany Gray, who missed the entire season due to knee surgery.
Center back Anna Morris and outside backs Emily Brookings and Emily Smith will be seniors next season and helped the 16-2 Rams limit opponents to 18 goals. Omnipresent speedster Denae Johnson, who had three goals and three assists in addition to her stellar defensive work, will graduate and will be missed.
She was one of six senior starters.
The key loss will be dynamic Grace MacLean, who scored 33 goals to lead Class A despite being heavily marked. She also had 12 assists and created space for her mates with her speed and presence.
MacLean had 59 goals and 36 assists over her past two seasons.
“It’s going to be tough to replace her,” acknowledged Johnson.
The Rams will also lose their third-, fourth- and fifth-leading scorers in Jordan Seekins (6 & 9), Jackie Veilleux (5 & 2) and Libby Huber (5 & 3). Attacking midfielder Ally Vanidestine (2 & 1) will also graduate.
But sophomore striker Alli Boulier scored 15 goals, including three in the 4-2 win over Hampden Academy in the Eastern Maine title game, and she chipped in with four assists.
Sophomores Mary Butler and Anna-Maria Dagher had 3 & 4 and 3 & 3, respectively, and should take on more prominent roles next season along with junior Katerina Dagher, who also scored three goals.
Johnson expects freshman Sarah Bragg to produce some goals.
He doesn’t anticipate anyone approaching MacLean’s numbers, “but I think we’ll have a bunch of girls who will score eight or nine goals.”
Johnson is excited to have Gray back.
“She’s one of the best players in the state,” said Johnson. “She has a great shot and she’s relentless. She’s a lot like Denae only with a little bit more of a soccer background.”
Gray could find herself as an attacking midfielder.
Sophomore Eve George (2 & 2) saw some time in the midfield and junior Kirsten Higgins, who spent the first half of the season in goal, will return to the midfield.
Junior Molly Jack saw time in the back and freshman Keely Markevich can play in the back or midfield.
Six-foot-two sophomore Cordelia Stewart became the full-time starter in goal midway through the season despite having very limited soccer experience and she went on to post six shutouts.
“For someone who had never played before, to come that far in a year is amazing,” said Johnson. “She’s going to be a dynamite goalie.”