Perhaps it does pale in comparison to the 15 state championships won by the Skowhegan Area High School field hockey team in the last 17 seasons.
But the nearly decade-long run of the Bangor Christian boys soccer dynasty is no modest accomplishment.
Since the start of the 2009 season, the Patriots are 151-9-1 overall with seven Class D state championships and eight regional titles in nine years – and the one season that didn’t conclude at states ended in the North championship game.
Those lofty achievements, which at one point included a 64-match winning streak, continued last Saturday as the Patriots capped off an unscored-upon four-match postseason streak by defeating Richmond 1-0 in the 2017 state final at the Weatherbee Complex in Hampden.
“It’s motivation, definitely,” said Dean Grass, a senior and four-year starter at the Outer Broadway school, “because we know what’s been done before and we just want to hold up the tradition and our legacy as Bangor Christian Patriots.”
The common denominator throughout this success story is 20th-year head coach Aaron Wilcox.
“We’ve always had a great coach,” said Bangor Christian junior Tyler Lehman, who scored the winning goal in this year’s state championship match. “He’s been coaching forever so he knows what to do. He has the strategy, and he definitely motivates us.
“He’s phenomenal, and that with just the guys’ God-given abilities and skill sets have carried us.”
Much of the joy in coaching for Wilcox is the annual jigsaw puzzle of putting players in the best positions on the field to succeed as a team while also nurturing depth that will aid the program both in the present and future.
“Every year is a different year,” said Wilcox, who has more than 250 coaching victories and eight state championships overall at Bangor Christian and in 2016 was named national coach of the year in the private-parochial division by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
“It’s a new group no matter how many kids you lose or have back from one year to the next, so trying to see what you can do with each new group is the fun I have, just putting things together and trying to make it work.”
This year, for instance, Wilcox moved Grass, a three-year starter on defense, to forward while shifting senior striker Erik Gorczok to midfield to bolster a team that graduated seven seniors — including all-stars Tyler Welch, Josh Palmeter and Jon Cormier — from the undefeated 2016 state championship squad.
The 2017 team also was aided by newer influences. Those included the emerging contributions of junior defender Robbie DeRoche, who saw little playing time last year, and younger players such as freshman outside midfielder Brady Reed.
“I think you always want to have that goal of getting back (to the state championship), but realistically to lose the players we lost last year was huge,” said Wilcox. “My thought was we had to have somebody from the bench last year step up and have a huge year and we had to have a freshman step up and have a huge year, and then we would have a chance of competing.
“That’s what happened.”
Wilcox takes little credit for his program’s success though he does acknowledge the stability he has provided during his two decades as head coach.
“I think I’m just a small factor in that,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with the program and have the longevity here. I think longevity with a coach is part of it so your kids see what your program is about as they come up through.”
Wilcox is much more eager to credit the players’ commitment at the high school level as well as their efforts in mentoring the next generation of Patriots.
This year’s state champions will return to the soccer field next Saturday as coaches for Bangor Christian’s peewee soccer program that Wilcox said numbers 50 or 60 younger players from the school.
“We just try to keep it rolling,” he said.
Wilcox also cites a geographical factor inherent in Bangor Christian’s success.
“The advantage we have over other schools in Class D is a majority of schools in Class D are very rural,” he said. “We’re not, so we have access to two indoor facilities and we have easier access to the premier travel teams.”
But that’s only an advantage if current and future Bangor Christian players capitalize on those opportunities.
“These kids are very committed to soccer, they get involved and stay very active with it,” Wilcox said. “I think that’s a key, that we have kids who put in a lot of time — we go to a team camp in western Pennsylvania in the summer and drive 14 hours to get to that camp.
“We just put a lot into it.”
Bangor Christian will graduate eight seniors from its 2017 championship team, led by senior captains Grass, midfielder Luke Chandler, defender Christian Boone and goalkeeper Austin Keib.
“We will be down,” said Wilcox, “but you know you just have to encourage kids to put the time in. New kids will come up, and then we’ll just work and see what happens.”
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