BY MATT DIFILIPPO

HAMPDEN — The Richmond players were aware of Bangor Christian’s streaks: Twelve consecutive shutouts. Five state championships in a row.

Most importantly, the Bobcats were aware of how Bangor Christian had secured last year’s state title — scoring on a penalty kick against Richmond with 52 seconds left in the game, then winning on penalty kicks after two scoreless overtimes.

The Bobcats stared down those streaks and the unpleasant memories, and simply laughed them off. Senior striker Marcus Blake scored two goals and Richmond suffocated Bangor Christian’s offense to take a 3-0 victory in the Class D boys soccer state final at the Weatherbee Complex.

“This would have been their sixth time in a row, right?” Richmond freshman keeper Zach Small asked. “It’s really nice to break the record, and take it for ourselves.”

“We’re freezing our butts off right now,” Blake said. “We wanted to get out there, and move around, and get going as fast as we could. We were ready for this game. We wanted revenge.”

Bangor Christian’s streak of approximately 1,000 minutes of scoreless defense was knocked out less than three minutes into the game. Curtis Anderson sent a pass to Blake in the box, and Blake worked for enough room to drill a shot into the lower left corner.

“I got a pass from Curtis, and I saw the space to poke it through (the defender’s) legs,” Blake said. “I did that, and I got it through. I happened to get around him, and just put it right in the back of the net.”

As if to smirk at those who thought the goal was a fluke, Blake scored again with 19:10 left in the first half. This time, he lofted a shot from 35 yards out that found its way between the keeper and the crossbar for a 2-0 lead.

“I saw I was out between the 40 and the 35,” Blake said. “I knew I was pretty deep out, but the defender gave me some space, and I noticed the keeper was outside of his net. I got a pretty good shot off of it.”

“He’s just an awful competitor,” Richmond coach Peter Gardner said. “His thought process is excellent in terms of soccer decisions.”

The Patriots, who started five freshmen, began to show signs of frustration. When senior Josh Viekman misplayed a ball out of bounds with 3:45 remaining in the half, he threw his hands out in disgust.

But Viekman’s irritation was understandable. The Patriots were held to seven shots on the day, and five of those came after they were down 2-0 at the half.

“I think, most importantly, they just played the way we played all year,” Gardner said. “We started the season by saying, ‘We’ll build from the back forward’ and we continued to do that. That’s pretty much what the whole thing has been this year. Play a lot of good defense, and get your offense from your defense. That’s kind of what happened today.”

Most of Bangor Christian’s best chances came from freshman Tyler Welch, a skilled creator who, while never able to get completely free, made room for himself to get shots.

“He was a great player,” Blake said. “He really was. You don’t see many players like him that we face. But they wanted to get it down the center of the field, and we have a tough defense. We play layers, and we play our layers well. They were unable to get through, and we were lucky for that.”

Bangor Christian almost got back in the game with 12 minutes and change left in the second half. Welch’s free kick from 33 yards out was a liner that bounced off Richmond defender Tyler Soucy. Josh Palmeter gathered the deflection, but his shot was cradled by Small for the save.

“I was getting ready to save it, and then I saw Tyler stick his leg out,” Small said. “It went off to another player. I saw him position his foot, so I just dove and positioned myself that way to try to catch it, and it worked out.”

Small was in the stands in Bath when the Patriots defeated Richmond for last year’s Gold Ball. But when Cody Tribbet scored on a misplayed shot with 5:19 to play, Small realized he was going to be part of making up for that game.

“After Marcus hit that (second) shot, I knew that we could hold them off and win the game,” Small said. “Then when Cody scored the third goal, I knew we had it.”

After the game, a fan congratulated Blake on winning the state championship. Blake replied that it was seven years too long in the making. Richmond’s last state title was in 2007, and it’s tough to play much better than the Bobcats did on Saturday.

“As far as shutting that team down, that’s kind of how we played all year long,” said Gardner, who won his seventh state title as a coach. “We’ve played against a lot of good teams, and our defense just has been really strong. It’s just a nice reward for hard work.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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