HOULTON — All it took was a recent tie against Class B power Caribou in a rainstorm to get the Fort Kent girls soccer team’s competitive fire up.
The Warriors’ relentless intensity was on full display Friday night, as Mary Grace Morris’ first-half goal stood up in a hard-fought 1-0 victory over a tough Houlton squad.
Coach Robby Nadeau’s club, which improved to 2-0-1, showed why it is being pegged as one of the favorites in Class C with that intensity in the offensive end, something it had trouble with in its first two matches.
“We had good intensity this game, it showed a lot compared to other games. Our intensity’s getting harder every game,” said senior tri-captain Jessica Walker.
Even though the Warriors were able to find the back of the net only once, with 19:37 left in the first half, they controlled the midfield and didn’t let the Shiretowners, who fell to 0-2, generate any significant chances.
“We attacked hard today, we definitely stuck it to them and we weren’t passive at all,” Fort Kent forward Becca Martin said. “It was one of our best games this season.”
Fort Kent had plenty of chances to score early, but one shot hit the crossbar and another by Katherine Nadeau 10 minutes in clanged off a post, but Morris finally put her team on the board just after the halfway point.
She took a cross from Michaela Desjardins along the right side of the penalty area and her hard shot toward the far post grazed off Houlton goalkeeper Marina Cameron’s gloves and into the cage.
“We just got it up to Michaela, she got a pretty good cross in [to me], and then the goalie must have fumbled the ball or something,” said Morris.
The Warriors had several chances to add more goals throughout the match, but Cameron, a sophomore for coach Tim Tweedie’s Shiretowners, came up with some nice saves while a few other Fort Kent shots sailed over the net.
“She’s a tough kid, she comes every night to play,” said Tweedie “She’s kept us in the first two games.”
Even though the Warriors didn’t score several goals, their attackers kept Houlton’s back line on its heels, as Fort Kent outshot the Shires 26-2.
That was mainly thanks to the Warriors’ forwards and strikers attacking the net and not making one pass too many.
“We’ve been getting so caught up in passing it, we weren’t shooting, and we had a lot of shots on goal today,” said Martin.
The Warriors also controlled possession and consistently won the 50-50 balls.
Houlton did have two chances to tie it late in the game, both coming on breakaways.
The Shires’ Abby Kines had a clean break down the middle in the 30th minute, but the Warriors’ Carissa Pelletier came up with the save. Alana Pratt had a similar chance just about a minute later, only to be stuffed by the Fort Kent senior.
Those were the only two saves Pelletier had to make on the night.
“Fort Kent was putting so much offensive pressure on us,” Tweedie said. “When we had a few opportunities, it was just our forwards moving up and our mids and our striker, they weren’t transitioning well enough and it was kind of leaving our forwards out to dry.”
Tweedie, who starts four freshmen and was missing starting sweeper Makala Folsom, who was attending her grandmother’s funeral, was very pleased with his club’s effort.
“To have four freshmen step in and play big minutes and hold these guys to a 1-0 game, I’m super proud of them,” Tweedie said.
Even though four of Fort Kent’s shots found metal as opposed to nylon, the Warriors weren’t frustrated.
“To hear a clang, [we know we] have a second opportunity waiting, so all we’re waiting for is the next one,” Walker said.
Cameron finished with 12 saves for the Shiretowners, and stayed in the game after taking a shot to the face while going for a 50-50 ball with a Fort Kent attacker late in the second half.