BANGOR, Maine — The character of the Presque Isle girls soccer team was tested Monday.
The Wildcats went into halftime trailing 2-1 to John Bapst — the first time coach Ralph Michaud’s club had been behind all season — and had three shots clang off goalposts in the second half.
But Brooke Long-Postell and Kayla Richards showed the resolve that makes a champion just that as they scored a minute apart in the final three minutes as the Wildcats rallied for a 3-2 victory at the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center field.
With just more than three minutes to play, the reigning Eastern Maine Class B champions (7-0) were awarded a direct kick after a charging call. After two direct kicks early in the half clanged off posts, Long-Postell scored on the third when she converted a high, arching shot over the outstretched arms of Bapst goalkeeper Mandy Sawyer at the 3:01 mark.
A minute later, Richards was given a penalty kick when she was pushed from behind in the penalty area by a Crusader defender on a Jodie Buckley throw-in. Richards’ penalty kick settled inside the right post to give PI its only lead of the match.
“I just tried to keep calm and it worked out good,” said Richards, a sophomore striker.
The Wildcats outshot the Crusaders 25-10 but Sawyer, a freshman, made a couple of point-blank saves in the first half — including one on a Richards header from in close — while Bapst’s back line did an effective job of winning 50-50 balls and pushing it back up into the midfield.
“I think they had more backs than [attackers]. They were just trying to play defense more, but their defense did really well,” Richards said.
John Bapst got on the board first as Kristyn Gerow scored the first of her two unassisted goals, dribbling down the midfield and slipping a low shot past PI ’keeper Kelsey Park 5:04 into the match.
The Wildcats tied it eight minutes later, as Richards sent a pass to an unmarked Chelsea Nickerson on the left flank, and she curled it inside the far post.
Gerow pounced on a loose ball and scored with 9:14 left in the half to give Bapst its halftime edge.
“It was definitely [frustrating], we were totally dominating a jot of the balls [but] we just couldn’t finish,” said Richards.
Michaud’s halftime speech, during which he said the team’s resolve would be tested, paid dividends.
“It was a good test of our character to see if we could come back from a 2-1 deficit,” said Michaud. It took a while to answer the bell, but they did it.”
The Crusaders, who fall to 4-3, played aggressive, clean soccer against the quicker Wildcats despite missing two starters in forward Kirsty Moriarty (knee) and goalkeeper Laura Jordan (head).
Park came up with seven saves for the Wildcats while Sawyer had five for John Bapst.