It’s business as usual when it comes to the University of Maine-Fort Kent men’s and women’s soccer teams.
For the third year in a row, the men are hosting an NAIA National Tournament game and the women are flying to a warmer climate for their NAIA tourney opener on Saturday.
The 21-0 men’s team will entertain 12-5-1 St. Thomas University (Fla.) at 11 a.m. at Alumni Memorial Field, while the 19-2 women will travel to Santa Clarita, Calif., to face The Master’s College, which is 16-2-2. Game time is 4 p.m.
The UMFK women lost to Azusa Pacific 3-0 in California a year ago after being ousted by Northwood (Fla.) 7-0 the previous year.
The women have overcome a lot of adversity to reach the tournament this season.
They lost three standouts for the year due to early or midseason injuries.
Goalkeeper Mindy Morneault (concussion) was lost for the year in just the fourth game of the season. She made 24 saves against Azusa Pacific a year ago. Morneault’s sister, Liz, has replaced her.
Striker-midfielder Morgan Chasse (hip) and midfielder Marie-Pier Daze (knee) played in three and 10 games, respectively, before suffering injuries. They each had nine goals and five assists a year ago.
In addition, the Bengal women have had two buses break down and another hit a moose on the interstate. Nobody was hurt.
“I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do,” said women’s coach Lucas Levesque. “We’ve kept battling and kept going.”
Dexter’s Whitney Sinclair, who starred at Bangor’s John Bapst High School, followed up a 39-goal season with 34 more this season. She has also dished out 22 assists.
“She’s had more weapons around her and that takes a little of the pressure off her,” said Levesque. “She certainly knows how to finish.”
Sinclair said, “(Midfielder) Victoria Dubois-Iredale has been a good distributor in the midfield. It has definitely helped having her behind me.”
Dubois-Iredale has seven goals and eight assists.
Sinclair added that Theresa Biggs (15 & 7) has been another key asset in the midfield.
“Theresa has been the most important piece to the puzzle,” said Levesque.
And when Sinclair or Biggs aren’t scoring, UMFK has a 20-goal scorer in striker Donike Ferriera.
Liz Morneault has a 1.06 goals-against average after taking over for her sister.
“She has done an excellent job stepping up for Mindy,” said Sinclair. “And losing Mindy has been a motivational thing for us. We’re trying really hard to protect her.”
Shanay Armstrong, who missed last season because she had to have her thyroid gland removed, was the Sunrise Conference Defender of the Year. The center back has been “huge for us,” said Levesque.
Jamie Daigle and Andrea Baril have been the outside backs.
Marie-Michele Lachance and Angela Norsworthy join Biggs and Dubois-Iredale in the midfield and Jenn Colpitts (6 & 2) and Jamie Nadeau (8 & 0) have been productive midfielders as well. Jamie Pelletier (9 & 2) has supplied scoring punch.
Sinclair expects to be marked but not as closely as she has been.
“Every team we play has two girls on me at all times. They can be pushy and a little dirty. I’m sure they will have someone marking me, but I don’t think (the marking back) will be running next to me all the time so, hopefully, I’ll have a little more space. Maybe they’ll overlook us a little bit and we’ll be able to take advantage of that.”
Coach Bill Ashby’s men’s team is led by a highly skilled group of seniors who have lost just three games in four seasons. All came in the NAIA Tournament, including a painful 1-0 loss to Indiana Tech a year ago in the opening round in Fort Kent. That has served as extra motivation.
“The players have been driven ever since that loss,” said Ashby.
“This is the best team I’ve ever coached, hands down,” added Ashby, who has been coaching at the college level for 27 years at a variety of institutions. “It is the most determined team I’ve had. It has the most talent, desire, drive and competitiveness.”
The Bengal men have outscored their opponents 116-3 and are the No. 5 seed for the tournament.
Ashby, who led his team to the Elite Eight two years ago, said his team is gunning for a national championship.
The question mark entering the season was in goal where workhorse Giovanni Sinclair decided not to return.
But David Girouard has posted an 0.16 GAA and a .925 save percentage.
“He has answered any questions we had,” said Ashby.
Protecting Girouard is a veteran corps of shutdown defenders comprised of center backs Barrington Blake and Damion Stone and outside backs Oniqueky Samuels and Spencer Jacoby. Samuels has also been a contributor offensively with 13 assists to go with two goals.
The midfielders are attack-oriented and feature Keith Williams II (14 & 5), Walford Stewart (6 & 10), Luka Odak (5 & 18) and Jermaine West (13 & 11).
Andre “Shorty” Anderson (25 & 15) and freshman Amine El Moumen (21 & 7) supply the Bengals with a terrific one-two punch up front. Henley Comrie (7 & 1) provides scoring depth and Williams II and West also see some duty up front.
USM names captains
Cinjin Goewey of Pittsfield has been selected as one of three captains this season for the University of Southern Maine wrestling team.
The junior, who competes at 141 pounds, posted a 16-11 record last season with a career-best 11 pins. Goewey was named to the Pilgrim League Scholar-Athlete All-Star Team.
USM’s other captains are senior Billy Cole and sophomore Peter Gilman of Alfred.
For the USM men’s hockey team, Jon Rutt of Scarborough has been tabbed as one of three captains.
A two-way left wing, Rutt tallied eight goals and nine assists for 17 points last season, while he has compiled 19 goals, including nine on the power play, and 36 assists for his career.
The other captains are Zach Joy and Steve Wiedler.
Joy led the Huskies in scoring last winter with 20 goals and seven assists, while scoring six times on the power play.
Wiedler, a defenseman, registered two goals and three assists last year. Since transferring to USM from Elmira College in the fall of 2008, he has appeared in 44 games, posting three goals and eight assists.
USM plays top-ranked Norwich this weekend.