(Bath ME) Who saw this coming?
The Windham girls’ soccer team made it look easy in defeating Bangor, 3-0, to get their first Class A title on a cold, sunny Saturday morning at McMann Field in Bath.
It took penalty kicks and overtime for the Eagles (17-0-1) to even get to the title game for the first time.
Meanwhile Bangor (16-2) came in having been in the Class A state finals four straight years……….talk about big game experience!
And then there’s that 65-4-2 record the Rams have put together over the past four seasons leading up to this title game.
But Bangor on this morning in Bath never had a chance against Windham. The Eagles controlled the ball with precise short passes and took almost all the shots.
Still this game was a scoreless tie at halftime. That score and Bangor’s track record made me suspect that the second half would be different. I also wondered as a game dragged on if some sort of fluke score might decide it.
Surprisingly, things didn’t change much in the second half. The Eagles continued to control the ball with terrific passing and again took most of the shots. The big difference? Three of their shots got past Bangor goalkeeper Emily Gilmore.
One of trio of goals came quickly. Sophomore Ciera Berthiaume broke into the middle for a long shot. The shot was high enough and hard enough that it got into the net over the head of the Rams goalie at 39:09.
Five minutes later Ciera nearly had a second goal as she was on the heading end of a crossing pass by Lauren Shoemaker from the right. Ciera’s header back was very, very close to going in.
But Bangor hung on and as the minutes went by that one-goal Windham lead was not a comfortable one.
The Rams did get a couple of shots long-range in the second half that reached Windham GK Kate Kneeland but nothing to ooh-and-aah about.
If you’re looking for turning points (I couldn’t resist!), you might consider that Ciera Berthiaume went down at 14:28 appearing to “turn” her ankle.
You know it’s your day when an injury helps! Out went Ciera and in came junior Luisa Sbardella.
1 1/2 minutes later, junior Jenna Soucy broke from right to left occupying most of the Bangor defense. Jenna got off a hard shot in the penalty area as she went flying (diving?). GK Emily Gilmore mishandled the shot and senior Emily Brookings tried to clear the ball away. Replacement Luisa pressured Emily, forced a turnover, and fired a shot into the right corner at 12:59.
A two-goal lead, now that’s a different story with the way Windham was connecting on pass after pass.
Less than three minutes later, Jenna Soucy dribbled past, and around, a number of Rams defenders. Five Rams were near her when she finally fired a shot from the middle in close. The Rams GK never had a chance as Windham pushed their lead to, 3-0, with 10:11 to go.
The rest of the game was garbage time although Anna-Maria Dagher headed a corner kick over the net with 7 1/2 minutes left.
Bangor coach Joe Johnson started clearing his bench with 5 1/2 minutes left in the game and plenty of reserves saw action down the stretch for both teams.
The shot stats were eye-opening: Windham outshot Bangor 19-2 in the first half and 14-3 in the second half. Windham GK Kate Kneeland had an easy morning with only three saves. Believe me, in the previous tournament games the senior was under fire frequently………. but not this one.
Young Benjamin LeBel (week old?) was on hand for the game.
Coach Deb Lebel of Windham won three state Class B championships at Falmouth during her four years (2005-08) coaching there.
Bangor won the state title in 2011 defeating Scarborough, 4-0, at Falmouth Stadium.
Cordelia Stewart was slated to be the starting goalie for Bangor this year but suffered a knee injury.
The Windham defense was spectacular today. It was their passing that caught my eye. The passes were quick and teammates slide into open spaces. You watch the pregame and one of the things most teams do is play keep away. That game of keep away carried over into the actual game today for the Eagles.
Senior Emily Gilman ended her career today for the Eagles. Emily is tall and tough. She was a difference-maker in the way she limited high-scoring Amanda Arnold in the Thornton Academy game (Western Class A finals).
Bangor’s Tiffany Gray in the reigning Class A triple jump champion. Tiffany missed 2012 for the Rams soccer team getting injured during the 2012 summer playing for a soccer travel team.
The Eagles had players come off their bench to play key roles in their final three games of the 2013 season. Backup GK Liz Mycock was in net for Scarborough’s penalty kicks. Reserve Emily Gorrivan shocked Thornton Academy with her goal in overtime and reserve Luisa Sbardella delivered the breathing-room, second goal in the title game.
McMann Field was opened in September. I thought that the surface was outstanding………..money well spent. Parking was dicey, however, but not unexpected with four important games running one right after the other.
Bangor and Windham had scrimmaged each other during the pre-season.
Windham will lose some key seniors but they have enough coming back to be in the hunt in 2014 in my opinion.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)