My favorite time of year.
We lost a ton of seniors from last year’s State Championship runner-up team, and as with the start of any new season, it is always interesting to see how a young team will evolve and develop their own personality. Despite losing so many starters from last season, we knew we were going to be good again this year. Little did we know just how good though.
We cruised through the regular season with a record of 14-0-0, scoring 60+ goals and conceding only one goal… that’s right, one goal all season long. We played some of the best high school soccer I have seen in a long time, dominating opponents in every aspect of the game and all over the field.
Coaching this group was an absolute pleasure, and as we moved from the regular season into the playoffs, we were very focused on making it back to the state championship game. We figured if we could make it that far we would likely get a shot at the team that beat us in overtime last year, Scarborough.
After convincing playoff wins against both Lawrence and Erskine, we ran into old foe Brunswick in the Eastern Maine Final. The game that decides who goes to the state championship from Eastern Maine has been between Bangor and Brunswick 3 of the last 4 years, and a healthy rivalry has developed along the way. Two good teams squared off this time around, both with the utmost of respect for each other.
Great game. Lots of action and drama. We went 1-0 up early and carried the game to Brunswick for most of the first half. The Brunswick defense bent but didn’t break, and as the first half wound down it was they who came storming back to grab the momentum. They came out in the second half determined to maintain their grip on the game, and only 7 minutes in they tied the score at 1-1 after a goalmouth scramble.
This seemed to wake our team up, and for the remainder of the game we reversed the flow and put Brunswick back on their heels. Despite some relentless pressure, we could not break through to get what would surely have been the winner.
The game went into overtime, where the first team to score wins the game… golden goal rule. We talked about how this was our home field, and how we wanted to be positive going forward in trying to continue to wear our opponent down. Chance after chance came our way during overtime, but with five minutes left and somewhat against the run of play it was Brunswick who scored the winning goal. On another goalmouth scramble, the ball bounced around in front of our goal for what seemed like an eternity before one of their players reached out a leg and poked the ball through the crowd and into the goal.
All season long we had never been behind to another team, and now that we were, we would not have a chance to respond. Golden goal… the game was over. The season was over. For our seniors, their high school soccer careers were over. Just like that.
We were all stunned. We knew that Brunswick was a great team, and that they were very capable of beating us, but up to this point we had been invincible. Not tonight. Our season ended quickly, painfully, and unexpectedly. Great fans, great atmosphere, and even a great performance by our team… but unfortunately for us, the wrong result. Brunswick left Bangor that night with our best wishes, but were not able to overcome Scarborough, falling by a score of 2-1 to the reigning state champions.
This was an especially tough one to take. I woke up the morning after feeling very empty inside. Just a game I know, but at the same time everyone had worked so hard for so long, and just like that it was all over. Weird feeling.
We are preparing for our end of season celebration this week. It will be great to see all of the kids again. The last time I saw them they were dealing with the disappointment that losing a big game brings. It will be good to see them smiling again as we remember those awesome moments from the season that make playing sports so much fun. I am sure that there will be lots of laughs and stories to be told.
Once again we will be losing an incredible group of dedicated and charismatic seniors. We are very proud of the accomplishments, the leadership, and the legacy of the group pictured below, and they will be sorely missed. However, I can’t help wondering what next year’s team will look like?