BANGOR – There’s always a strong, deep rivalry between teams from Bangor and Brewer high schools.
But at one time, a few members of the Rams and Witches boys soccer teams, who will have an unprecedented Eastern Maine Class A semifinal meeting this evening, were teammates.
Bangor seniors Ross Allen and Cam Cormier once played on youth travel teams with Brewer seniors like Jimmy Nicknair, Marc Relford and Reid McLaughlin.
Now on opposing teams, the No. 2 Rams and the No. 6 Witches will play at 7 p.m. at the Bangor High field. The winner gains a spot in the Eastern Maine Class A final against the winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal between No. 1 Brunswick and No. 4 Hampden. The Dragons host the Broncos at 2:30 p.m.
Cormier and Allen said they’ve played in recent years with several of the Brewer players involved in Black Bear United, a program popular among the top players in the state.
But the Bangor players go back all the way to travel teams for 10-and-unders when kids from neighboring towns without travel soccer come to Bangor to play.
The Brewer boys were among those youngsters.
“We never thought about it,” Cormier said on a break from practice Tuesday. “Back then we never thought we’d see them. But now when we think about it, we’ve known them for a long time. We know what they can do.”
The Witches have advanced farther in the postseason this year than in at least a decade, a development that doesn’t surprise the Rams.
“We knew they had the potential,” Allen said. “But their team never seemed to be able to get it together the whole season. Every year they’ve definitely improved.”
Bangor won both regular-season meetings, 4-2 and 1-0.
Wednesday’s semifinal matchup is just the second-ever playoff game between the Bangor and Brewer boys teams, according to Bangor coach Adam Leach, a Bangor High history teacher who has compiled a history of the Rams soccer program.
The squads’ only other postseason meeting was a quarterfinal in 1991. No. 6 Brewer upset No. 3 Bangor 1-0.
“It’s huge for both of us to be competing for a chance to get to Eastern Maines,” Cormier said.
The Bangor players are pleased to see Hampden, another rival, still alive in the postseason, too.
“It kind of shows the north is fairly strong,” Allen said. “Most people think of the south having the stronger soccer teams.”