ORONO – Aggressive play, injured players and similar stats showed the closeness of the women’s soccer battle between the University of Maine and the University of New Hampshire Wednesday.
So it was unfortunate for the Black Bears that with the score tied 1-1 in the second half, the Wildcats capitalized on a Maine gaffe to win 2-1, giving UNH a 3-3-1 record.
It was the first loss this season for Maine, which jumped out to a 3-0 start – the best in the program’s seven-year history. UNH’s two goals were the first scored on the Bears this season.
“It went pretty much as I hoped – except for the score,” Maine second-year coach Dave Patterson said. “We played very physical. We made a mistake, and in conditions like this that’s it. The second goal we were caught in transition.”
On a breakaway in the second, UNH’s Lisa Coulis waited until UMaine goalie Shelia Fenderson was in front of her – and about 15 feet out from the goal – before feeding a pass to Kimberly Boyle who nailed a clear shot and the game-winner at 14 minutes, 45 seconds into the half.
“In the second half, they let off and we picked it up. But Maine played with intensity,” UNH coach Mike Jackson said. “It’s an emotional game – the first conference game. That’s the most emotional. It was a pretty close game.”
Maine had eight shots on goal, UNH had nine. Maine senior Fenderson and UNH goalie Lorien Snelling each had seven saves. And Maine took four corner kicks, while UNH took six.
In the time remaining, Maine had two good chances, and two corner kicks but couldn’t finish. Patterson said what hurt was the loss of starting forward Renee Bussell who left the game before halftime when she was kicked in the ankle.
“We needed a spark in the second. We missed her in the last 20 minutes,” Patterson said. “We have a lot of depth, but Renee adds something special. After their second goal, we had several chances and didn’t put any of them away. They had a few chances, and finished both of them.”
UNH opened the scoring at 1:01 into the game when Niki Begin took a Boyle assist and nailed a wide-open shot into the right corner of Maine’s goal.
After sharing possession of the ball with UNH through the first half and taking six of their eight shots, the Black Bears scored when Jill Cassie fired a corner kick to Mary Wells and Wells drilled it over Snelling’s head with 2:56 left in the half.
Wells said the goal – and the score – offered no indication of what Maine can do.