The John Bapst Memorial High School boys soccer team from Bangor simply couldn’t shake the resilient Ellsworth High School Eagles in their entertaining Class B North game at the Union Street Field in Bangor on Tuesday afternoon.
After two of their goals, Ellsworth responded with a goal less than a minute and a half later.
But senior midfielder Jon Pangburn’s penalty kick with 4:05 left in regulation finally allowed the Crusaders to take a deep breath as they triumphed 4-2 in a clash of undefeated teams that made deep playoff runs a year ago.
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John Bapst is now 4-0 while Ellsworth fell to 2-1.
John Bapst reached the Class B North final last year where it lost to Winslow 2-0 after Ellsworth had been ousted by Winslow in the semifinals 3-0.
Oscar Martinez had staked John Bapst to a 1-0 lead just 59 seconds into the game but Miles Palmer answered 1:17 later.
Ellis Columber gave John Bapst the lead for good with 8:27 left in the half and Hunter Clukey expanded the lead with 8:54 remaining in the contest.
But Cruz Coffin slotted home a 25-yard free kick 1:07 later to set up a dramatic finish.
Pivotal play: A handball in the penalty area sent Pangburn to the penalty spot and he placed it nicely to the right of freshman goalkeeper Cooper Mitchell.
“I was calm and collected. I knew where I wanted to put it and that’s where I put it,”
John Bapst had another penalty kick 50 seconds later but Jack Mason sailed it over the crossbar.
Big takeaway: It was an intense affair with both teams going hard after every 50-50 ball. There was no shortage of aggressive tackles.
Both goalkeepers, John Bapst senior Matt Fitzpatrick and Ellsworth’s Mitchell, made a number of top-quality saves and both also raced off their lines to smother through balls before an opponent could corral it and get a shot off.
Fitzpatick finished with seven saves on 19 Eagle shot attempts while Mitchell made eight saves off 28 Crusader attempts.
These two teams are definite Class B North contenders. They have skilled and tenacious players up front, in the midfield and in the back and their goalkeepers are also solid.
“There were two good teams out there so it came down to who would take advantage of the opportunities and they took advantage of more of them than we did,” said Ellsworth coach Mark Ensworth.
Up next: John Bapst visits Bar Harbor to take on Mount Desert Island at 11 a.m. on Saturday while Ellsworth hosts Foxcroft Academy from Dover-Foxcroft at noon on Saturday.