BANGOR, Maine — In a game that didn’t allow anyone much time or space with the ball, Bangor High School junior striker Anna-Maria Dagher finally found herself with a little breathing room when she gathered in a loose ball 20 yards from goal.
And she took full advantage, striking a powerful swerving shot that glanced in off the goalpost to the right of freshman goalie Kate Guerin 2:24 into the first overtime to give the Rams a hard-fought 2-1 schoolgirl soccer victory over Mount Ararat of Topsham in their Eastern Maine Class A championship game.
Bangor’s regional title was its fourth in a row and the Rams will play the winner of Wednesday night’s Western Maine A final between third seed Thornton Academy of Saco (14-1-1) and top seed Windham (15-0-1) in Saturday’s 10 a.m. state final at McMann Field in Bath.
The youthful Eagles, who started four freshmen and just two seniors, concluded a 14-3 season with two of those losses coming to Bangor.
Bangor took a 1-0 lead on Alli Boulier’s first-half goal off a Mary Butler feed but the youthful Eagles received a well-deserved equalizer from Christine Levesque as she converted a Danielle Krause corner kick with 11:39 left in regulation.
Bangor had a slight edge in territorial play in the first half but Mount Ararat had more possession in the second half.
Dagher’s game-winner came off a ball that was sent into the penalty area by her sister Katerina.
The ball pinballed around before bouncing out to her in the middle of the field just outside the penalty area.
“That was the most time I had on the ball all game long. I was kind of surprised,” said Anna-Maria Dagher. “I knew pressure was coming out at me but I had time to take a touch and then get my shot off. I was just trying to get it to someone running to the far post.”
Her chest-high shot through a posse of players hit the inside of the post and rolled across and over the goal line.
“I didn’t see it until it got to me,” said Guerin, who had helped send the game into overtime by holding the near post and snaring Butler’s angled shot off a rare Eagle turnover with four seconds left in regulation.
Neither team was able to generate many good scoring chances throughout because both teams attacked the ball aggressively and the bumpy surface made it difficult to string passes together.
Bangor took the lead when Butler dribbled past a defender along the extended goal line before finding an unmarked Boulier in the middle of the penalty area. Boulier one-touched her angled shot into the far corner past the helpless Guerin.
Mount Ararat tied it when Krause’s corner kick landed in a maze of players inside the six-yard box and ricocheted around until Levesque poked it home.
The Rams knew the Eagles had the momentum going into overtime so Bangor coach Joe Johnson instructed his team to go out and try to get an early winner. And they responded.
“(Mount Ararat) had good energy,” said Katerina Dagher. “They fought hard.”
“We had the momentum but that’s the way it is. Soccer is a funny game. This was a great game,” said Eagles coach Sam Chard.
“Everyone was on the edge of their seats. It was very exciting,” said Bangor senior center back Anna Morris who keyed Bangor’s back line along with sister Grace, Emily Brookings and Tiffany Gray.
Krause and freshmen Anna Manuel and Lauren Labbay anchored the Eagles’ defense and Torri Pelletier was a constant threat up front.
Emily Gilmore finished with three saves on 14 shots for Bangor and Guerin had one save on 12 shots.