March 29, 2020

Rams win as George drills goal Bangor nips archrival Witches for third time

BANGOR – Freshman striker Nick George’s older brother Dylan scored a lot of goals for the Bangor High School soccer and hockey teams before graduating last June.

Dylan would have been proud of his younger brother’s goal Wednesday night.

Nick George curled a rising bullet into the far corner from 13 yards out with 4:12 left to give the second-seeded Rams a hard-fought 3-2 Eastern Maine Class A semifinal win over archrival Brewer.

Bangor, now 14-1-1, will visit No. 1 Brunswick (16-0) in Saturday’s EM Class A title game. Sixth seed Brewer finished an outstanding turnaround season at 11-5-1 after going 10-30-2 in its previous three seasons.

Three of this year’s losses were to Bangor.

On the game-winner, Troy Jellison’s throw-in went to Dan Taft, who tapped the ball ahead to George cutting from left to right across the penalty area.

“I touched it to the middle to get a clear shot because there was a defender there,” explained George. “I focused on hitting it well and putting it on net and it happened to go in.”

“I was trying to get in position, but it was definitely a well-placed shot into the top corner,” said Brewer junior goalkeeper Chris Brady, who had no chance on the shot.

“You won’t see a better shot than that,” said Taft.

Jellison said he made a quick throw-in to Taft because “Brewer was setting up for a long throw and Dan was wide open.”

Taft said he passed it to George immediately “because there was a defender right on my back.”

Bangor took a 2-0 lead in the first half with goals 4:51 apart by Ross Allen and JoJo Hwalek.

Allen got his thigh on Tony Martinez’s corner and redirected it back across the goal past Brady.

Hwalek scored after Christian Larochelle’s throw-in created a wild scramble. Matt Goodell’s shot attempt popped in the air and Hwalek headed it under the crossbar.

The Witches’ Andrew Richardson cut the lead in half with a penalty kick later in the first half after Prentiss Swett’s throw-in created confusion and a Ram handball.

The unmarked Richardson tied it with 26:42 left in the second half when he angled a header into the far corner off a perfectly placed left-footed corner kick by Christian Klein.

Aaron Taft made three saves on 14 Brewer shots while Brady wound up with four saves on 23 shots.

The game featured several momentum swings. Bangor had an edge in territorial play thanks to its possession game, but the tenacious Witches generated some dangerous counterattacks and Swett’s long throw-ins created havoc in the Ram penalty area.

The Witches caught a break late in the first half when George and Allen rang consecutive headers off the crossbar and post, respectively.

Brewer was energized by each of its goals and, moments before George’s game-winner, Brewer’s Chris Corey tested Taft with a well-struck and well-placed 40-yard shot. The goalie snared it.

“The guys played their hearts out. It was a very even game. I really felt comfortable with 10 minutes left and then they got that goal,” said Brewer coach Mark Savage.

“It’s hard to beat a good team three times and they’re a good team,” said Bangor coach Adam Leach. “They proved they deserved to be in this game. I was very impressed with Brewer.”

Brewer captain and midfielder Reid McLaughlin said, “Everybody gave it their all. We always gave them a good game. I don’t know what it is [that enables Bangor to win].”

Dan Taft said, “We knew it was going to be a good game. We knew we could score goals, but we didn’t think we’d let up two.”

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