BANGOR – Revenge, maybe, but for the Bangor boys soccer team, Wednesday evening’s 3-0 quarterfinal victory over Hampden Academy was more about being a means toward an end.
Hampden eliminated top-ranked and undefeated Bangor team from the 2007 playoffs in a stunning quarterfinal upset, but given the same scenario this year, there was nothing close to a repeat.
Nick George scored two first-half goals as Rams defeated the Broncos by the same score for the third time this season and left last year’s playoff disappointment as a distant memory.
“It was a little bit [revenge],” said Bangor senior sweeper Nate Frazier, “but at the same time it’s a new year and we have a lot of new players, so we’re just focusing on our team. We wanted to win it for us, not last year.”
The win advances the top-ranked Rams (14-0-1) to a regional semifinal Saturday against the winner of the quarterfinal between No. 4 Mount Ararat of Topsham and No. 5 Waterville.
“It’s one more step,” said George, “but now we’ve got to focus on the next game Saturday and have good practices the next couple of days.”
As it did in its previous matches against Hampden, Bangor started fast against the ninth-seeded Broncos.
But this time coach David Patterson’s Rams also dominated play in the second half, with 12 shots on goal after intermission compared to just two for Hampden.
“The other times we played they came out hard in the second half and controlled some of the play,” said Bangor midfielder Dan Taft. “We just wanted to settle them down, so we brought a few more people back to control that first spurt. We did that and played a lot better in the second half than we have in the past two games we played them.”
Bangor finished with a 21-6 advantage in shots on goal, with Bud Angst making six saves while recording his ninth shutout of the season.
Brad Melanson made 16 saves for Hampden, which finished 9-5-2.
Bangor’s first threat came seven minutes into the match, when George passed to Mack Susi just to the left of the goal. Susi popped a shot over Melanson, only to have Hampden’s Austin Michaud clear the ball away just before it crossed the goal line.
George broke through two minutes later, taking a pass from Johnny Warren and beating two defenders before grounding a shot past Melanson.
George’s second goal came with 15:56 left in the half.
Zane Gray’s throw-in from the deep right wing reached Taft at the near goalpost, and Taft skimmed a header back into the goal crease. George, reading the play, raced in and one-timed a close range shot into the center of the goal.
“We know Zane has a big throw,” said Taft. “Zane threw it right toward the end line and I was able to get a deflection back to the middle and Nick was right there to put it in.”
Jacques Larochelle added an insurance goal 4:11 into the second half, drilling a low penalty kick to Melanson’s right.
That goal came after some strong work by Warren in the penalty area, as he outdueled one defender and was working against a second before the Broncos were called for tripping.