BRUNSWICK, Maine — In the sport of soccer, one assist is typically assigned to a goal. But, there are times when two, three or even four assists could be handed out.
Take for instance Brunswick’s 4-1 Eastern A boys windy and rainy soccer semifinal victory over third-seeded Hampden Academy on Saturday. Three times, the Dragons strung together several passes on the way to a goal in leading second-seeded Brunswick into Wednesday’s Eastern A Regional final at No. 1 Lewiston, which downed fourth-seeded Bangor, 1-0, on Friday.
“You hear me yelling to the players, ‘keep it moving, keep it moving,’” said Brunswick coach Mark Roma after his team improved to 12-2-2. “That is what we do all day in practice, keeping the ball moving and looking to pass to penetrate, not just pass to pass. They did that today.”
Hampden coach Josh Stevens tried to rally his team throughout the game, but Brunswick’s ability to win most of the balls in the air, along with the 50-50 battles, doomed the Broncos.
“They won everything in the air, and they played the same way all three times we played them. Their aggressiveness won out today,” said Stevens, whose squad closed with a 12-4 record. “As far as the goal scoring, we shot it at their ‘keeper and they shot it around our ‘keeper. Hats off to them. They did a great job.”
Brunswick showed its hand right out of the gate as the cool rain fell. Cam Glover won a ball in the air and quickly passed to JD Souza. The Brunswick midfielder passed to space to teammate Eric Kousky, who quickly sent a pass forward to speedy Keenan Welzel. The Dragon striker one-touched the ball past Broncos netminder Kyle Townsend (eight saves) for a 1-0 lead just 7:30 into the game.
Hampden Academy struck back immediately, 30 seconds to be exact. Noah Parker launched a shot that Brunswick goaltender Josh Dorr (seven saves) dove to stop, but Tristan Garner was there for the rebound for a 1-1 tie.
“I thought it took us that long to wake up, and once we woke up and equalized, I thought we would put the pressure on them,” said Stevens.
But, Brunswick continued to press the issue, especially on transition behind the play of Jesse Arford, Cole Faulkner and Marcos Martinez.
The Dragons received a gift at the midway point of the opening half. Miscommunication between Townsend and a Hampden defender allowed Glover to score into a vacated net for a 2-1 Dragons lead, and Welzel’s second goal of the contest from Souza with 13 ticks left until halftime made for a 3-1 contest.
“Hampden is good, and you have to make your chances and capitalize when you create those,” said Roma. “We know what they have and they know what we have. There are few mysteries.”
With an entire half to play, Glover knew his team was far from out of the woods.
“Even a two-goal lead is dangerous in soccer, especially against Hampden, which scored five goals on Bangor,” said Glover. “We had to put in 80 minutes, and we still had those next 40 minutes. Today, we put together two good 40-minute halves.”
The Broncos earned five corner kicks in a 12-minute stretch of the second half, but the Brunswick defense of Christian Glover, who marked the dangerous Garner throughout, Henry Doherty, Reed Foster and Pedro Zenklusen cleared Hampden chances away from Dorr’s goal.
“Everything worked today, making it hard to point to one player because so many guys had an amazing game,” said Roma. “I think we played the best team game that we have played all year long. Pass and penetrate, looking to move forward and make as many chances as you can were the keys.”
Brunswick added an insurance goal with 16:22 remaining when Martinez finished off a pass from Alex Reny.