The University of Maine-Fort Kent’s women’s soccer team’s trip to the NAIA National Tournament last year was a short one. The Bengals were rudely dispatched by Northwood University (Fla.) in the first round 7-0.
The Bengals have higher expectations this season and have gotten off to a 7-0 start that includes a 3-1 victory over a Husson University team that beat them 7-0 last season.
“We have higher goals this year. We feel we can make it past the first round,” said sophomore striker Whitney Sinclair, who has paced the Bengals with a team-high 13 goals, which is third highest in the nation among NAIA schools. She also has three assists.
Dexter’s Sinclair, an all-state selection and the Penobscot Valley Conference Class B Player of the Year her senior year at Bangor’s John Bapst Memorial High School, scored 30 goals for the Bengals a year ago and was the Sunrise Conference’s Rookie of the Year.
“Whitney anticipates better than anybody we have,” said sixth-year UMFK coach Lucas Levesque, who added that this is clearly his best team at UMFK. “She’s very crafty and she reads the game very well. If she can’t get to the ball, she’ll go where the ball may go if the defender makes a mistake.
“She can keep the ball close to her feet and she makes these little cuts with the ball. She weaves through tight spaces better than anyone around,” added Levesque.
Sinclair said she is a little more patient with the ball in the attacking third this fall.
“When I beat a defender, instead of just shooting I’ll take it around the‘’keeper and place it in the net. I’ve done that three or four times already,” explained Sinclair. “I’m learning the game.”
She is also quick to credit her teammates for her success.
“My teammates have been a great help. They’ve been setting me up and I’ve been able to get closer to the goal,” said Sinclair.
One of the players who has been instrumental in her success has been Theresa Biggs, a former South African Junior National team player.
Biggs has six goals and three assists.
“She’s a key asset to our team,” said Sinclair. “She’s very fast and can take the ball around anybody. She can put a lot of pace on the ball and crosses the ball well. And she’s in very good shape. I enjoy playing with Theresa.”
“They’ve been a great combination for us,” said Levesque. “Theresa is a crafty player who distributes the ball very, very well and sees the field well. She puts the ball where it needs to be.”
Sinclair’s former John Bapst teammate, freshman Morgan Chasse, is the team’s third-leading scorer with four goals and an assist.
“Our strength is our ability to score goals,” said Levesque, who has had eight players score at least once.
“Everybody can score,” said Sinclair.
The Bengals should get even stronger this weekend with the arrival of freshman striker Donike Ferriera from Jamaica.
“She arrived late and had to sit out a few weeks,” explained Levesque.
Levesque is in the process of switching his team over to a 4-3-3 (four backs, three midfielders, three strikers) formation from a 4-4-2 (four backs, four midfielders, two strikers) to better utilize his talented corps of attacking players.
Freshman Marie-Pier Daze (2 & 2) headlines the midfield where she is joined by juniors Angela Norsworthy (2 & 1) from Presque Isle and Emily Burnett (1 & 3) from Lincoln Academy in Newcastle. Senior Michelle Nowakowski (2 & 1) also sees midfield duty as does Chasse.
Freshman Andrea Baril has been a stellar marking back and the other players used in the back have been Buxton junior Amanda Tracy, freshman Marie-Michele Lachance (1 & 0), Madawaska senior Sarah Nadeau and Madawaska sophomore Jamie Daigle.
University of Southern Maine transfer Mindy Morneault (0.40 goals-against-average, .919 save percentage) from Eagle Lake is considered one of the best goalkeepers in the state by Levesque.
Levesque and Sinclair said the win over Husson has given the team confidence and Levesque said it will help recruiting.
UMFK has the equivalence of 2.2 scholarships which has also been beneficial, Levesque said.
UMFK hosts SUNY/Canton and Paul Smith’s College on Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m.
Trio sails into MMA Hall
The Maine Maritime Academy athletic department has selected James “Zeke” Zedalis, Charlie Raymond and L. Joseph “Joe” Clark for induction into the William J. Mottola Mariner Athletics Hall of Fame.
Zedalis (Class of 1962) was a three-sport athlete who lettered in football, basketball and baseball all three years at MMA. He was a two-way player at end in football, and batted over .300 with a high average of .412 one season in baseball.
Raymond also played both ways (guard and linebacker) in football from 1961 to 1964 and was an All-Maine second-team pick in 1963.
Clark was a four-year starter and three-year letterman, leading the Mariners to a New England Football Conference championship. He was named to the All-NEFC team three times (once as honorable mention) and was the first athlete in the 37-year history of MMA football to be a first team NAIA All-American. His No. 75 jersey has been retired.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will take place Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in the BIW Center on campus.
Two join SMCC Hall of Fame
John Coyne and Craig Dagan will be honored as the newest members of the Southern Maine Community College Athletics Hall of Fame Oct. 11 at the HUB Athletics Center on the SMCC campus.
Coyne was point guard on the 1995 and 1996 men’s basketball teams that appeared in the National Small College Athletic Association National Tournament. He dished out 478 career assists to rank first at the school.
Dagan played both basketball and baseball, accumulating 1,078 points (fifth in career points at SMCC) and 206 assists (fourth) on the court and a career batting average of .265 on the diamond. He is now the women’s basketball coach and sports information director at Maine Maritime Academy.
Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased by calling 741-5927.