BANGOR – There was no shortage of scoring opportunities during Wednesday’s college soccer game between the University of Maine-Fort Kent and Husson College as the two teams baptized Boucher Field’s new FieldTurf surface.
But UMFK freshman midfielder Walford Stewart was the only player to find the back of the net, scoring the first goal of his career just 6:52 into the game as the Bengals won 1-0.
UMFK improved to 3-0 while Husson fell to 0-3.
Husson had more possession as the Eagles’ aggressive play enabled them to win most of the 50-50 balls.
But breakdowns and ill-advised decisions in the attacking third prevented them from converting and the Bengals also received some important saves from junior Derick Plourde, who finished with six stops on 20 shots.
Husson’s Miguel Dominguez made four saves on 16 shots.
UMFK counter-attacked smartly and was the more dangerous team in the attacking third thanks to the dynamic Jamaican duo of Dwayne Smith and Andre Anderson, who used their quickness and foot skills to beat defenders and create havoc in the penalty area.
The build-up leading to the goal began with Sean Platt playing the ball to the right flank to Smith, whose cross sailed harmlessly through the penalty area to the far side where junior striker Andrew Martin gathered it in.
“I made a run up the left side and cut it back to the middle. Wally [Stewart] called for it right in back of me so I gave it to him. He popped it right over the goalie,” said Martin.
Stewart said when he looked up “I didn’t see any direct play [to make].
“My first idea was to go straight to goal. The ‘keeper was off his line so I chipped it over his head,” said Stewart.
Dominguez said “the wind carried it right over me.”
Dominguez rejected a good bid by Luka Odak off an Anderson cross and dodged a bullet when a Henley Comrie cross found an unmarked Anderson making a run to the near post. But Anderson’s sliding volley sailed wide of the near post.
Nattapong Kongsuriya nearly equalized off a 22-yard free kick but Plourde dove to his left to steer the ball around the near post with his left arm.
“That was pretty well-placed. I kind of lost it for a second,” said Plourde.
Early in the second half, the Bengals had a golden opportunity to extend the lead when Odak fed Martin, whose through ball sent Anderson in alone.
But Dominguez swiftly dove out and smothered the shot.
Smith missed an open net from 20 yards out later in the half after a ball glanced to him off the back of Husson’s Jeff Truchon.
The UMFK defense did a much better job limiting Husson’s chances in the second half.
Husson’s best two chances came in a three-minute span.
Kongsuriya was set up in the middle of the penalty area by Peter Alexander but his rushed half-volley was comfortably saved by Plourde.
Moments later, Truchon had a partial break-in down the right flank off an Alexander pass but Plourde held his ground and swatted his near post shot out of danger.
“Husson is pretty dangerous on top with their through balls. They’re pretty quick but my defense played very well today,” said Plourde. “My sweeper [converted goalie Giovanni Sinclair] played very well.”
Husson coach Seth Brown said, “We played better than we did in our first two games but we’ve given up goals seven minutes into our first three games, our speed of play needs to get better, our final pass in the attacking third needs to get better and we need to play with more urgency in the box.”
Brown praised the play of fullbacks Truchon, Tim Mousette, Billy Shannon and Justin Gauvin while UMFK coach Bill Ashby lauded the efforts of midfielders Emlyn Jacoby and Odak.