BANGOR —- The mission of the Bangor girls soccer team was a simple one Tuesday afternoon: Stop Jordan Pellerin, and let the offense take care of itself.
While Rams’ defenders Erin Boulier and Denae Johnson hounded the Waterville striker wherever she went, Ashley Robinson continued her red-hot start.
Robinson recorded three goals, her third hat trick of the season as Bangor shut out the Purple Panthers 3-0 in a game that was delayed a half hour due to thunder.
Waterville coach Ian Wilson couldn’t recall the last time his club was shut out.
“I honestly think this is the first shutout in the four years I’ve been coaching,” he said. “They did a very, very good job marking Jordan, she drew a crowd all day, and I commend the Bangor defenders for doing an outstanding job marking her.”
Coach Joe Johnson’s Rams improved to 3-0-1 while Waterville falls to 2-1-1.
Both teams were even early in the match, but the Rams eventually switched from a 3-4-3 (three backs, four midfielders, three strikers) alignment to a 3-5-2, which allowed them to control the midfield and make crisp passes on the ground.
“If we didn’t have our midfield we would’ve broken down, they would’ve gotten easy shots off,” Bangor forward Kim Jordan said.
Boulier and Johnson were outstanding in making sure that Pellerin didn’t have any clean breaks down the middle.
“We marked the cuts so she didn’t get through balls,” said Boulier. “Denae did a great job cutting her off, and I just marked the through-ball most often.”
Junior goalkeeper Meri Wicks made a couple of strong saves in goal early on, including a point-blank stop on Pellerin in which Wicks had to bat the ball back into the penalty area, as she was falling backwards into the cage.
“With the intensity of the whole team it just got back to me and I was able to just focus on getting the ball, keeping it out of the net and just playing it out to the sides,” said Wicks, who had seven saves on eight Waterville shots.
Robinson finally put the Rams on the board 4:23 before halftime on a free kick, beating helpless Waterville goalkeeper Annesley Beringer to the far post.
Bangor kept turning up its attack in the second half, and Robinson gave her team some insurance with 17:51 to play, taking a pass from Libby Huber near the top of the penalty area and tucking a nice, low shot into the far post.
“We always try to find the seams, and we try to make the runs and that’s just what happened,” said Robinson, who has 10 goals on the season. “She found the seam and I ran on to it.”
Robinson’s final goal came on a penalty kick with 14:48 left, which was awarded when a Waterville defender batted a shot away from an open net.
The Rams got some revenge of sorts, as Waterville beat Bangor twice in the Queen City last fall, including in the Eastern Maine semifinals.
“I think we all think its a huge game to win, it gives us points and it shows how good we are this season and how much we want it and how much we’ve improved from last year,” Robinson said.
Jade Baumrind, Hanna Colpritt and Shannon Brozyna sparked Bangor’s midfield while Jordan and Grace Maclean helped create some high-percentage chances up front.
“I think in the second half they really started to assert themselves, they were deeper than we were and their depth paid off,” Wilson said. “They were fresher in the second half.”
Beringer had seven saves on 18 shots for Waterville.