HAMPDEN, Maine — The Bangor High School boys soccer team was expected to have a strong defense this fall, with nearly everyone back on that end of the field from the 2017 unit that helped the Rams reach the Class A North championship match.
Through four matches this fall, they’ve done nothing but live up to that expectation.
Goals by Damian Sheffer, Jacob Henry and Colin Waterman were more than enough offensive support for a defense that nearly pitched its fourth straight shutout Wednesday evening as Bangor topped Hampden Academy 3-1 on the new artificial turf at the Weatherbee Complex.
Bangor improved its record to 3-0-1, while Hampden fell to 2-2.
“It really was a tale of two games at different times of the game,” said Bangor coach Garth Berenyi. “I thought we started off really well and got an early goal, but Hampden got some energy and the game became scrappy. Then we settled down at halftime and played more out game.
“There were times when we played well, but it wasn’t a complete game.”
Bangor threatened in the opening 90 seconds of play as Cameron Richmond’s bid off a corner kick by Colin Waterman required an early save by Hampden goalkeeper Sam Lilley.
The Rams cashed in less than three minutes later. Tri-captain Conor O’Brien gained control of the ball near midfield and dribbled it toward the right corner before making a cross past one teammate and right to Sheffer, who one-timed the ball into the upper left corner of the goal to give Bangor a 1-0 lead just 4:09 into the match.
“I got the ball at my feet and I love playing on this surface so I knew I could dribble better than I could at Bangor,” said O’Brien. “I knew I could make it down side and thought I was faster than the defenders so I dribbled around them and saw the midfield run coming in and I just dropped it back and (Shaffer) finished it.”
Hampden gradually played itself into the match and earned a direct kick from just outside the penalty area when the Broncos’ Daniel Fachiol was tripped from behind during a counterattack with 16 minutes to play,
Junior midfielder Gavin Partridge lined a high shot that Bangor goalie Austin Conway tipped over the crossbar to keep Hampden scoreless.
The Broncos kept applying pressure, with their best bid of the half a quick 20-yard redirection by Robert Buzzini from the left wing that necessitated a diving stop by Conway with 17:40 left before intermission.
Bangor tested Lilley again off a goal kick with 4 minutes left in the half, as Richmond gained possession on the run near midfield and advanced before crossing the ball left to Jacob Henry, whose, low quick bid was stopped with a diving save by the Hampden keeper.
Bangor had a 9-4 shots advantage at the break.
Hampden had the first good chance of the second half on a Kenneth Penney header off Derek Gendreau’s corner kick. The header was ticketed for the center of the net just under the crossbar, but Conway went skyward to tip the ball over the goal and preserve the shutout bid.
Bangor nearly doubled its lead moments later as Jacob Munroe lined a shot that was tipped by a Hampden defender off the left goalpost with approximately 19 minutes left.
The Rams finally got an insurance goal with 15:13 remaining on a penalty kick by Henry. Henry was awarded the kick after being tripped up while dribbling the ball deep in the penalty area to the right of the net, and while Lilley appeared to have tipped the penalty kick the force of Henry’s shot nestled the ball into the left side of the goal to make it 2-0.
Waterman added the Rams’ third goal with just under 11 minutes to play, a sharp 30-yard effort from the left wing that sailed over Lilley and inside the far corner of the goal.
Hampden finally broke Bangor’s shutout streak with 6:19 remaining as Cooper Leland ran under a long restart kick by Derek Gendreau from left wing to the right side of the goal and one-timed the ball back inside the left goalpost.
“It was really a mixed bag,” said O’Brien. “In the first five to 10 minutes we showed better play than we have the entire season, and then there were times — especially on their goal — when we had lapses that showed our worst playing of the season.
“All around it was a fairly good game.”
Bangor outshot Hampden 16-7, with Conway making six stops and Lilley credited with 11 saves.