BANGOR, Maine — Just two blemishes separated Bangor High School’s run to the 2016 Class A state championship in boys soccer from perfection, both losses to Edward Little of Auburn.
One came early in the regular season, the second in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship exhibition that precedes postseason play.
The Rams extracted a satisfying measure of revenge from the Red Eddies in a midseason battle of the unbeatens Tuesday evening, scoring twice in the first 4:42 of play en route to a 3-0 victory.
“It’s definitely good to get the team that got you last year,” said Bangor junior defender Jack Bourassa. “Obviously they’re a huge opponent, so just to get out there and get the clean sheet (shutout) and the win is huge for us.”
The win was the 23rd straight in countable games for top-ranked Bangor, including an 8-0 start this year that includes six shutouts and just five goals allowed — two on penalty kicks.
EL, ranked second behind the Rams in Class A North entering the contest, is now 6-1-1.
Senior striker Garth Berenyi paced the Rams’ offense with two goals, and he also assisted on Joe Dagher’s goal 42 seconds into the match that gave Bangor a quick 1-0 lead.
“I got the ball at my feet and slipped one in behind to Joe Dagher,” said Berenyi. “It was pretty close to the end line, a pretty tough angle, but he did really well staying composed and hit it off the back post and in.”
Bangor’s early offense continued, with David Miller feeding Berenyi for an open header from the 6-yard line to extend the lead to 2-0 less than five minutes into the match.
“His first touch is unbelievable,” said EL coach Tim Mains of Berenyi. “He sets himself up. He sets his teammates up. With that first touch, everything is giving him space or his teammates space and that’s tough to guard.”
While EL challenged offensively later in the opening half and fairly consistently for the first 20 minutes after intermission, the Rams’ veteran defensive grouping of Bourassa, senior Henry Nagle and juniors Josh Sherwood and Conor O’Brien yielded few scoring threats and sophomore goalie Austin Conway (five saves) stopped all those that reached him.
“We knew they were able to score a lot of goals and we also knew they had some pace up top so the biggest thing was just dropping off the ball earlier and anticipating it,” said Bourassa of an EL offense that had averaged more than five goals per match entering this showdown. “They played a really tough game. They came at us hard so we just had to make sure to hold our fouls back and keep our composure with them.”
Edward Little goalie Noah Sterling stopped a Bangor penalty kick midway through the second half to keep his team in contention, but the Rams added an insurance goal on a restart four minutes later when Berenyi headed in Bourassa’s deep free kick from the left wing with 17:10 remaining.
“I think this definitely encourages us a lot moving forward knowing we have a team that no matter who we play this year we’re capable of coming out with the outcome,” said Berenyi. “And if we play the best we can we’re going to get those outcomes. They’ll take care of themselves.”
Corrected on Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. to reflect the correct name for Bangor’s Jack Bourassa.