It was an entertaining start to the soccer season as defending three-time state Class A champion Camden Hills received a test from a defiant Bangor High School team in Bangor on Thursday night.
But the superior Windjammers received late first-half goals from senior midfielders Kris Kelly and Kaylyn Krul and went on to post a 3-1 victory to extend their unbeaten streak to 48 games.
Kelly, a two-time All-American and the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year last season, finished off a well-crafted passing sequence with an 8-yard header off an Ella Pierce cross with 11:24 left in the half and Krul converted a Kelly cross 9:21 later to make it 2-0.
Ali Tassoni added a goal off a scramble with five minutes left to extend the lead before Rams freshman Emilyn Streams scored a minute later with a near-post volley off a Devin St. Louis cross.
The win improved Camden Hills’ record to 53-1-1 during its state championship run. The only loss came at the hands of the Rams.
Freshman goalkeeper Hannah Osmer turned in an impressive debut for Bangor, finishing with nine saves on 23 shots including several gems.
Camden Hills junior goalkeeper Alex Southworth wasn’t tested nearly as often but was solid, logging four saves on seven shots.
“We worked together well, a lot better than I expected,” said Kelly, a dynamic Central Connecticut State commit, who finished with eight shots.
“We did real well with possession,” said Camden Hills coach Meredith Messer. “We had some real nice four- or five-pass combinations.”
The Windjammers had the lion’s share of possession in the first half and generated 13 shot attempts to Bangor’s one. Camden Hills also carried the play in the second half, but Bangor had more of the ball and was much more threatening in attack.
Camden Hills was finally rewarded for its dominance with just under 12 minutes left in the first half. A clever give-and-go involving Ella Powers and Pierce wound up sending Pierce busting down the right side in the penalty area. She served a pinpoint cross that the open Kelly calmly headed into the net for her 111th career goal.
“We have been practicing timing our runs on corner kicks and that was pretty much the same as a corner kick,” Kelly said. “It was a beautiful cross from Ella and it found me.”
Kelly set up Krul’s goal when she busted around a defender to the end line and whipped a left-footed cross that glanced off the hands of Osmer and landed in the path of Krul, who directed it home with her leg.
“I heard [Krul] yell. Usually when she does, she is running in to the net. I tried to get it as close to the goal as I could,” Kelly said.
“Most of the time I can read Kris. I knew she was real good at getting a high cross. I knew there was no one at the back post, said Krul, who thought she got the ball with her knee.
Messer was impressed by Bangor’s second-half surge.
“They didn’t lay down. They still brought it,” she said. “It was a good, fun match.”
Bangor first-year coach Andrew Varisco thought his team gave a good account of itself.
“The girls came with a great compete level from the beginning of the game until the end. They got better and better as the game went along. It is a great foundation to build on,” Varisco said.
He thought Osmer was the star of the game.
“She was fantastic,” said Varsico. “She was very aggressive and did everything we asked of her.”
The fearless Osmer raced off her line to smother a Pierce break-in midway through the second half and had rejected a well-struck free kick by Krul from just outside the penalty area in the first half.
In addition to Kelly, Krul and Pierce, sophomore back Tessa Whitley was stellar in anchoring the back line for Camden Hills.
Varisco felt his entire back line of Isabel Parkin, Mackenzie Lambert, Emily LeClair and Maggie Cowperthwaite turned in strong performances as did midfielder Rowan Andrews.
JV: Camden Hills 2-0