WASHBURN, Maine — In a sport like soccer, where the ball can bounce your way one second and against you the next, it’s good to have a little luck on your side occasionally.
Wisdom High School boys soccer coach Scott Gagnon was thanking his lucky stars Monday afternoon.
His Pioneers from St. Agatha pulled out to a 2-0 lead barely five minutes in, only to have Washburn come back to tie it in the second half, before Wisdom got a couple of late goals from Kody Chamberland and Curtis Picard to escape with a 4-2 victory at the boys field.
This one appeared to be a Pioneer runaway early, with Picard scoring his first goal of the match 1:32 in, breaking unmarked down the right flank and slamming a hard shot past the left goalpost.
Four minutes later, Picard fed Chris Ouellette for a goal with a perfect cross into the penalty area after Picard controlled the ball on a short goal kick.
But Wisdom grew a bit lackadaisical after that, especially in the offensive end.
“They outhustled us most of the game, and I explained to my guys that every game’s like a championship game to me, you’ve got to play with all you’ve got,” said Gagnon, whose club improved to 4-0 on the young season.
At times, the skilled Pioneers weren’t attacking the net as aggressively as Gagnon would have liked, and a lack of cohesiveness was evident at times.
“At times, your team is going to play to their maximum capacity and I just think we weren’t there today. There was no communication, and I think that was the biggest part of the breakdown,” said Gagnon.
The Beavers capitalized in the second half, taking advantage of multiple chances of their own while outworking Wisdom up and down the field.
Washburn (1-4) finally got on the board 5:32 into the second half, with Nick Bragg feeding Jordan McLaughlin with a perfect cross near the top of the penalty area, and McLaughlin beating Wisdom goalkeeper Ryan Blanchette to his right.
The Beavers kept the momentum, tying the game less than 12 minutes later. This time McLaughlin headed in a corner kick from Mitchell Worcester.
However, the Pioneers, who don’t have a senior on the roster, had a little team meeting and decided it was time to pick up the pace.
“They had to regroup. They stood at midfield after Washburn scored the second goal and they regrouped,” Gagnon said. “We came out with two quick goals and that saved us.”
The quick Pioneers eventually wore the Beavers down, and Chamberland took advantage, pouncing on a rebound at the top of the area with just more than eight minutes to play to give Wisdom the lead for good.
Picard gave his team some insurance, controlling a loose ball near the goalmouth and chipping it home for his second goal of the afternoon.
Washburn had a couple of chances itself to take the lead, but Blanchette made a couple of point-blank saves, which helped the Pioneers regain momentum.
“They came up to their potential the first 25 minutes of the second half, really played strong, and got some good chances, and I think we just ran out of gas there toward the end,” Washburn coach Ben Goodwin said.
Goodwin’s Beavers capitalized on 50-50 balls throughout the second half, which enabled them to get back into the game.
“We were very aggressive to the ball,” he said.
Blanchette had six saves on 16 shots for Wisdom while Ethan Pendexter compiled five saves on 19 shots for Washburn.