BANGOR – Looking for a second-half spark in Tuesday’s Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinal against No. 9 Mt. Blue, the No. 1 Bangor girls soccer team turned, as it has so many times this season, to Casey Hartley.
Once again, Hartley responded. The junior forward scored two goals, keying a second-half offensive burst that boosted the Rams to a 4-0 victory over the Cougars of Farmington at a wet, muddy high school field.
Bangor, the defending Eastern Maine Class A champion, earned a spot in Thursday’s semifinal game. The Rams will host No. 5 Mount Ararat of Topsham at 4 p.m.
Mt. Blue finishes 7-6-3.
Among Hartley’s game-winning goals this season was the winner in Bangor’s 1-0 regular-season win over Mt. Blue.
Not only did Hartley come out with a spark in the second half, but the entire Ram squad seemed to have more fire after a first half in which Bangor had the possession edge but was unable to get its timing down on offense.
After halftime, however, the Rams looked a lot more energized.
“I feel like we play stronger when we’re [playing offense in front of the Bangor bench] because everyone is right there,” Hartley said. “Our bench is here, the fans are here.”
It didn’t take long for Bangor to finally score.
The Rams were awarded a corner kick 4 minutes, 14 seconds into the second half. Erin MacDermott booted the ball to the far post where Jenny Lucy settled it and passed it over to Hartley for the shot by Mt. Blue goalie Caitlin Scott.
About 51/2 minutes later Amy Hackett crossed the ball from the right wing into the middle, where Hartley kicked in her second goal to give the Rams a 2-0 lead.
“We’ve known all along when Casey can do,” said senior midfielder and captain Emily Heath. “We’ve been expecting those goals. The other teams focus on other players and she comes in and surprises everyone.”
After a Mt. Blue defender let a ball slip into the net -Heath was credited with the goal – Hartley assisted on a Hackett goal.
Hartley sent a long pass through the midfield and Hackett beat a defender to run on to the ball. She finished with a shot to the upper left corner of the net.
The Rams outshot the Cougars 9-2 in the second half.
“We really worked on finding feet, pushing everyone up, putting pressure on their backs and winning the 50-50 balls,” Heath said. “That helped a lot.”
Bangor had four first-half shots and Mt. Blue had none as both squads played good defense but were unable to get much offense going.
“Defensively the first half we played very well,” Cougars coach David Ronald said. “Bangor came out flying the second half. It was really a game of two halves.”
Scott made fives and Bangor’s Tawnya Godinez stopped one shot, a high, dangerous chip in the second half.