The Bangor High girls soccer team exited the 2009 Class A postseason with a loss.
The talented Rams dropped a tough 2-1 semifinal decision to Waterville on their home field. Losses like that can fuel a team’s fire, and that left coach Joe Johnson’s team eager for the 2010 campaign.
“We played three times a week [this summer] so I felt prepared and ready,” junior forward Ashley Robinson said after Bangor handled Brewer 10-0 on Friday. “We all did. We’ve been playing since the day after school got out.”
The Rams have some players with championship experience as five members were on Bangor’s Eastern Maine champion softball team last spring. Bangor is hoping to use that to its advantage on the soccer pitch.
“We definitely have a lot of urgency this year from the loss that we had last year,” Robinson said. “We really want it this year.”
Robinson is joined up front by one of Eastern Maine’s most dynamic attackers in speedy sophomore Grace Maclean and the hardworking Kim Jordan, with Jade Baumrind and Ally Vanidestine, who ran a 59-second quarter-mile for Bangor’s outdoor track team last spring, providing more speed.
“No question we’re a fast team. We’re lucky to have some fast young players,” Johnson said.
The Rams will also be tough in the back, anchored by goalies Meri Wicks and Mia Smith, with Erin Boulier, Liz Hintz, Tiffany Gray, Emily Smith and Aimee Dubois on the back line.
Smith will miss the first three weeks of the season with a stress fracture, but the Rams are blessed with depth at the goalkeeper position, with Kristen Henigan also expected to see some time.
“Not many teams have one good goalie let alone [three] so we’re very fortunate to have that,” Johnson said.
The Rams will also be very deep offensively, as five different players recorded at least one goal in the season opener, including four by Robinson.
“I feel like we’re all really good shooters, so we have depth all around,” said Robinson.
Bangor will play a 3-4-3 (three backs, four midfielders, three strikers) alignment most of the fall and will be looking to take advantage of its speed.
The Rams also will welcome back senior forward Sadie Redman from a knee injury in a few weeks.
What Johnson liked in the season opener was that the Rams possessed the ball well, their passing game was clean and the attackers supported each other.
“The ball movement’s great, they put each other in great positions to have the opportunities to score,” he said.
He’s also impressed with the way Wicks blossomed in goal during the preseason.
“She came back from camp realizing she was the starting goalie,” he said. “She’s worked hard in the last couple weeks between tryouts and the preseason. She’s come along great in a short period of time.”
Bangor is expecting to make a run at an Eastern Maine title this fall, and its aggressive play on opening day suggested this could be the Rams’ year.
“It just shows what type of team we are this year, we’re in it to win it this year,” Robinson said. “That’s how we’re going to play.”
Vikings gaining confidence
Presque Isle has always been a nemesis of the Caribou girls soccer team.
But the last 10 months may suggest a changing of the guard, as the Vikings not only knocked the Wildcats out of the Eastern Maine Class B playoffs last fall, but made a statement by beating Presque Isle 5-3 last week, handing the Wildcats a rare loss on their artificial turf field.
Keep in mind, Caribou also played for an Eastern Maine championship last fall, winning two games on the road to get there.
The thing that has been working for coach Todd Albert’s club thus far has been depth, as the Vikings have plenty of other offensive weapons besides dynamic striker Jenna Selander.
“Jenna’s unselfish, even though she’s probably going to get a lot more recognition and things like that,” Albert said. “The girls are just fitting in and playing with each other and making the right pass. They’re listening to things that need to happen.”
Albert also has plenty of depth, as he rotated players in and out early and often against Presque Isle. That was pivotal against a Wildcat team that features athletic attackers such as Kayla Richards, Chandler Guerrette and Chelsea Nickerson.
“We’ve been doing that throughout the summer and throughout the games we’ve played, keep [rotating] girls in and out,” Albert said.
Complementing the dangerous Selander up front are Olivia Sleeper, Paige Small, Meredith Sleeper and Jamie Martin while Hannah Hebert, Katie Keaton, Sarae Sager and Sam Murchison will be among the keys in the back line.
The Vikings have also been looking to create chances off restarts, and Caribou scored three goals off corner kicks in its 5-3 win over Presque Isle last week.
“We’ll change that throughout the season so it’s not always the same,” Albert said.