PORTLAND, Maine — Bangor head coach Joe Johnson used the word “fortunate” more than a few times after his team played in the Class A girls soccer state championship game Saturday. Fortune finally favored the North champion Rams, who won the state title, 2-0 over Gorham, after missing out on the game last year and losing it in the previous two.
“This was a typical battle all the way through it, a battle ‘til the end,” Johnson said.“And fortunately we made some plays when we needed to.”
Bangor (15-2-1) got two second-half goals after holding off a Gorham (14-4) onslaught in the first half.
Megan Conner put Bangor on the board 17 minutes into the second half with a penalty kick after Maddison Cormier was taken down in the box. Gorham head coach Jeanne Zarrilli said the penalty call was a “legitimate” one
“We shouldn’t have given that one up,” Zarrilli said.“Those kinds of things turn games around.”
And for Bangor, it did.
“That was ginormous. That was like a game-changer for us,” Bangor senior Maeve Harrigan said of Conner’s goal.“That definitely gave us a boost of confidence, and we just, I think, took over from there.”
Harrigan changed the game some more less than 10 minutes later, sending a free kick from 40 yards out right to the head of Grace Morris, who redirected it off the top-left corner of the goal frame and in.
“When you see a play like that at any time those are great, because that was a pretty special play,” Johnson said.“Getting a two-goal lead in a state game is huge.”
Those two goals made up half of Bangor’s total for shots on goal in the game. That was compared to 12 for Gorham.
“I thought we had some opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on,” Zarrilli said.
Gorham had six shots on goal in each half, but all were stopped by Bangor goalkeeper Emily Gilmore.
“Our goalie played out of her mind,” Johnson said. “She’s certainly one of the best players in the state, and she’s one of the most athletic kids I’ve ever coached. We don’t win that game unless she plays like that and makes the plays that she does.”
Gilmore twice tipped high shots over the crossbar to deny Gorham, and made a reactionary point-blank save against Gorham’s Jenna Cowan off a corner kick in the first half. Harrigan then cleared a rebound attempt.
Those close calls frustrated Gorham, according to Zarrilli, who admitted her team has struggled all year converting opportunities.
“They got looks, but they didn’t have many quality looks. And fortunately for us when they did they just didn’t go in,” Johnson said. “They very easily could have won today, just the breaks went our way today.”
For Harrigan and the rest of the Bangor seniors, who entered high school the year after the Rams’ last title before losing twice in the final, Saturday’s game at Fitzpatrick Stadium was a welcome end to their careers.
“We’ve been working so hard for so many years to get here. It feels so great to finally get that win,” Harrigan said.