BANGOR – The pressure and the frustration were mounting Wednesday.
But when Josh Bartlett scored 3:08 into the first overtime, the Husson College men’s soccer team could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Bartlett’s goal off a break-in ended a scoreless streak that lasted 259 minutes, 47 seconds and gave the Eagles a hard-fought 1-0 win over the University of Maine-Presque Isle at Boucher Field.
It was Husson’s first win after five losses and a tie. UMPI fell to 2-4-1.
Junior center back Justin Gauvin set up the goal with a header off an UMPI clearance.
“I just wanted to send it right back in,” said Gauvin. “They were trying to push up as fast as they could. They got caught pulling up. Bartlett got the ball and scored.”
Bartlett beat the offsides trap and, with teammate Nate Carter next to him, sprinted in unmarked on UMPI junior goalie Scott Clenchy.
“It bounced over a defender’s leg and I was just there looking for it,” said Bartlett. “I let it take an extra bounce to try to get control of it. I hit it with the inside of my foot into the far corner.
“It was kind of a surprise. It was a big break for us. Justin played a great ball,” added Bartlett, whose goal was his first of the season.
Clenchy said there was a “little miscommunication” on the play and “Husson finished it well.”
The goalie said his first thought was “to go out and guess what they were going to do. And I guessed wrong.”
Bartlett said the win did provide the team with a needed sense of relief.
“We’ve been here a month and it’s our first win – finally. It’s a good thing to have,” said Bartlett.
“It feels great. It takes the weight off our shoulders,” said Husson goalie Bradley Ala.
Husson controlled play and won most of the 50-50 balls.
The Eagles took 30 shots at goal to UMPI’s 10.
But the youthful Owls defended diligently and efficiently, getting numbers behind the ball in the penalty area and blocking a lot of shots, and Clenchy was superb when the shots got through.
Clenchy finished with 11 saves while Ala made three stops.
Ala bailed the Eagles out early in the second half when a Jared Griffiths free kick deflected to Corey Fournier at the top of the penalty area.
Fournier’s first shot was blocked but the ball came right back to him and the Bradley native unleashed a powerful shot that Ala had to steer over the crossbar.
“It was completely reaction. I got the side of my hand on it and tipped it over the bar,” said Ala. “I wasn’t expecting that great of a shot.”
“I don’t know how he got it. He played a heck of a game,” said Bartlett.
“That was a phenomenal save,” said UMPI’s Griffiths.
Ala also punched a perfectly-placed free kick by Griffiths over the bar moments later.
Clenchy’s best save came late in the first half when Ross Salotto dribbled along the end line before sliding it to an unmarked Logan Larabee at the near post.
Larabee one-touched it firmly on net from six yards out only to have Clenchy deflect it wide with his knee.
“I got lucky. I guessed the right way,” said Clenchy.