When reminded that his team will be playing for the Class A boys’ soccer championship, Portland Coach Rocco Frenzilli asks a caller to repeat the statement again.

Upon repetition, Frenzilli barely can contain the excitement in his voice when he responds.

“State title game,” he repeats. “Can you believe it?”

As much as Frenzilli relishes the idea of Portland playing in its first state championship game since 1994, he also considers the history of the program. He thinks of all of the coaches he’s worked with, the countless number of players — including the Portland principal, Mike Johnson, as well as several members of the school’s staff — and the families and community members who have somehow been involved with the team.

“It isn’t so much that it’s just us,” Frenzilli said. “It’s the people that have put the sweat equity in the program from its inception, from the early 1970s to now. I know we’ve been to states before, but this is only the second time for us in 36, 37 years. It’s quite something.”

Portland will take on Bangor at 5:30 p.m. today at Falmouth High in one of the four boys’ soccer title games today.

Yarmouth will face Ellsworth at 10 a.m. at Falmouth for the Class B title, North Yarmouth Academy will face Fort Kent at 10 a.m. at Hampden Academy in Class C, and Richmond will face Bangor Christian at 5:30 p.m. at Hampden Academy in Class D.

“No individual player is going to win at this time of the year,” Bangor Coach David Patterson said.

“The teams that get here are teams in the truest sense of the word.”

At the start of the season, the Bulldogs set goals for themselves and reviewed them at the middle of the season.

“I told them, ‘Now, you have to legitimize everything,’ ” Frenzilli said. “We get a chance to play those playoff games and we took them as steps along the way, as a chance to legitimize the ultimate prize.”

Like Portland, Bangor set a goal to play in the state title game, and the Rams won their third Eastern Class A championship since 2006.

Portland and Bangor share a similar mentality — take care of ourselves and don’t worry about the others.

“Our boys have been very focused all year,” Patterson said. “I don’t see that as being an issue. Our biggest challenge is doing what we do well and not being overly concerned with what the other team is doing. We have the utmost respect for every opponent we’ve played. But when you get this far, you have to focus on what’s gotten you there.”

Frenzilli admits he knows little about Bangor other than the few seconds of news footage he saw of the Rams’ 2-1 overtime victory Wednesday against Brunswick in the Eastern Maine final.

But instead of focusing externally, he’ll ask his team to focus internally.

“It’s one of those things where I felt that at this point, we just need to focus on what we need to do,” Frenzilli said.

For both Bangor and Portland, there’s one thing left to do.

“Go out there and enjoy it as much as we can,” Frenzilli said. “There’s a lot of anxiety that comes with it, but it’s up to the kids. They’ll go out there, they’ll be in the game and we’ll keep doing the same things we’ve done over and over.”

 

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at: [email protected]