HAMPDEN, Maine — A record-setting performance by Bangor Christian’s Brad Wilcox proved insurmountable for the Central Aroostook boys soccer team in Wednesday’s Eastern Class D championship.
Played at Hampden Academy, No. 1 Bangor Christian (17-0 overall) blanked No. 2 Central Aroostook 6-0 behind a four-goal effort from Wilcox, who tied the statewide career scoring mark with 106 goals. Bangor Christian outscored its foes 16-3 in three postseason games. The Patriots beat Greenville 4-2 Saturday to win their third consecutive state championship and second unbeaten season in three years.
Zac Palmeter and Seth Pearson also scored solo goals for the Patriots, who held a 22-9 advantage in shots and 7-3 edge in corner kicks. Panther goalie Ross Grass had five saves, while Caleb Peary had three saves for the Patriots.
Central Aroostook finishes its season with a 10-5-2 record. The Panthers beat Machias 2-0 in the quarterfinals and bested Washburn 4-3 in the semifinals. Wednesday’s game marked the second time in three years that the Panthers and Patriots met in the regional championship. In 2009, Bangor Christian beat Central Aroostook 3-0, with Wilcox scoring all three goals.
“We knew they were fast all over the field, but we thought our speed could keep up with them,” Central Aroostook coach Dave Collins said. “We heard they hadn’t trailed all season long and we wanted to get on the board first and see how they’d react. But we were unlucky and they scored first.”
The Panthers almost accomplished their pre-game goal of striking first as Brandon Anthony took a pass from Spencer Stetson in the first five minutes. Anthony was able to get in close to the net, but his shot was directly at Peary, who made the stop.
“We had opportunities early, but just didn’t capitalize,” Collins said. “We were a couple of steps off on crosses. We just couldn’t put it into the back of the net. They (Bangor Christian) moved well as a unit passing the ball, where our guys seemed to second-guess themselves today. We didn’t do a good job of moving to the ball and anticipating.”
“We stressed possession of the ball throughout the year,” Bangor Christian coach Aaron Wilcox said. “We try to get as much possession in the game as we can to control the tempo. This (artificial) turf certainly helped with our speed.”Panther defender Mike McClung was busy as the Panther backfield faced constant pressure from the Patriots. CAHS’ Dan Brewer was also active in the middle of the field, making several acrobatic attempts to head the ball.
Bangor Christian broke the scoring ice with 32:09 to play in the first half as Brad Wilcox, son of the coach, scored the first of his four goals on the day when he faked out Panther goalie Grass with a shot to the opposite corner of the net.
Seven minutes later he scored again off a pass from Jay Bishop for the 2-0 lead that held until halftime.
Collins said he was impressed with the speed of Wilcox, particularly with his runs away from the ball.
“The ball wasn’t on his feet much,” Collins said. “He gets the ball, releases and goes.”