ORONO – A year ago, the University of Massachusetts outshot the University of Maine 22-4 en route to a 7-0 drubbing of the Black Bears.
UMass, with 11 letter-winners and six starters back off that 15-6-1 NCAA Tournament team, posted another win over Maine on Saturday. But the 4-1 score wasn’t indicative of the performance turned in by the Black Bears.
“The game was definitely a lot closer than that, more like 3-2,” said UMass senior sweeper Derek Rhodes, who prevented a goal by Maine captain Patrick Kelly by heading his shot off the line eight minutes into the game. “They definitely played us strong. They’re a lot better than they were last year.”
Maine, now 1-3-2, outshot UMass 23-13 but failed to capitalize on its scoring chances while the 3-4 Minutemen proved to be more opportunistic and, on one occasion, a little more fortunate.
That occurred 23 minutes into the second half when a cross from the right flank by Devlin Barnes was headed backward by Maine’s Eric Lemont and sailed over goalie Josh Sjostrom and into the net.
That made it 3-0.
Freshman stopper Jason Scudamore had opened the scoring just 5:27 into the game with a chest-high, 30-yard rocket into the corner to Sjostrom’s right.
“The ball came to me, I saw a guy in front of me, I took him to the right and shot it into the side netting. Coach [Sam Koch] usually doesn’t like it when I take shots,” said Scudamore about his first college goal.
Twenty-seven minutes later, Sjostrom reached out to impede Jeff Deren cutting across the penalty area and Deren converted from the penalty spot.
Maine stormed the UMass net in the second half, producing 10 shots at goal in the first 26 minutes.
Kelly hit the underside of the crossbar from a scramble in front and Adam Chenault was unlucky when he pounced on a rebound to UMass goalie Dave Doucette’s right but had his 4-yard shot glance off the side of UMass’ Lester Kitchell.
During a seven-minute span midway through the second half, Waterville sophomore Kyle McMorrow shot a breakaway into Doucette’s body. UMass then made it 3-0 on Lemont’s own goal, McMorrow scored his first college goal by running onto a low diagonal cross from Chenault and directing it into the vacant net, and UMass’ Yuri Morales sewed up the win with 16:34 remaining.
Morales had his back to the Maine net and was 12 yards out when he fought off a defender, turned and scored with his left foot.
“I got a good turn and got an open opportunity. The goalie was on his line and it went through his legs,” said Morales, who credited Travis Cooke with setting him up.
“We showed a lot of improvement from last year but we’ve got to put our chances away,” said Kelly.
Maine coach Travers Evans agreed.
“We came out in the second half and played tremendously. The guys created a lot of opportunities and a lot of them were quality opportunities. But we’ve got to finish those opportunities to make progress,” said Evans.
Koch, a 1979 Colby College graduate, said Maine “put us under a lot of pressure. If some of their shots had gone in, it would have been a different game and a different result.”