BANGOR – The seniors on the Bangor High School boys soccer team had never advanced past the Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinals, being upset at home in their three previous playoff appearances.
Throw in a slippery field, a blustery wind, and an efficient defense-minded Edward Little High School team and there were the makings of another upset Saturday afternoon.
But senior central midfielder Matt Goodell’s header off a Christian Larochelle cross 6:12 into the second half supplied the second-seeded Rams with a 1-0 win over the No. 7 Eddies from Auburn.
The 13-1-1 Rams now face archrival Brewer (11-4-1), the sixth seed, in Wednesday’s semifinals. EL wound up 9-5-2.
Bangor dominated the game, outshooting the Eddies 21-6 and limiting them to just a handful of forays into the attacking third. But EL, led by freshman sweeper Jeremy Theriault, clogged up the attacking third by getting numbers back in the defensive third.
“We knew we were going to get [a goal] sooner or later with how well we were playing,” said Rams senior central midfielder JoJo Hwalek.
“We’re a second-half team,” said Goodell. “We were playing our game, so we knew the ball was going to go in the net sometime.”
Right back Ryan Larochelle started the sequence that led to the goal by intercepting an Eddies pass and moving up the field. His brother Christian eventually took a throw-in to Dan Taft, and Taft one-touched the ball back to Christian.
“I took a touch toward the corner and saw a bunch of white shirts toward the 6 [goal area]. I just tried to put it up in the air so the goalie [5-foot-6 Josh Mains] couldn’t get to it,” said Christian Larochelle.
Goodell was at the top of the penalty area before making his run to the net front.
“I was unmarked and I went straight to the ball. It came right to me. It was easy,” said Goodell, who angled his header into the upper left corner past the helpless Mains for his fifth goal of the season.
“We did a bad job of marking up,” said EL senior stopper and co-captain Marc St. Hilaire.
“It was a picture-perfect goal for us to get,” said Ryan Larochelle.
Bangor coach Adam Leach said Goodell had a great game in addition to his goal.
The desperate Eddies made some menacing runs to try to equalize but they finished the game with only nine players as junior striker Adam Lutz and senior stopper Andrew Campbell were issued red cards in the game’s final eight minutes.
“My defense did a good job holding them off for the most part, but we didn’t get any offense going until it was too late,” said Mains, who turned in a superb eight-save performance, including a gem off a break-in by the always-dangerous Nick George late in the first half.
Bangor goalie Aaron Taft was forced to make only one save as the Rams posted their 11th shutout.
Ryan Larochelle said when EL managed to cross the ball or earn a corner or dangerous long flip throw-in from Lutz into the penalty area, “everybody marked up really well. We didn’t leave anybody open.”