OLD TOWN — The Presque Isle boys soccer team traveled to Old Town on Saturday knowing it needed to rebound after losing its first game of the season to undefeated Ellsworth on Wednesday afternoon.
The Wildcats did just that Saturday afternoon as they defeated the Coyotes 2-0 and improved to 9-1-1 on the season.
“We wanted to come down against a tough team and rebound against a tough loss,” said Presque Isle head coach Joe Greaves. “It was nice, it was a good win today.”
Presque Isle controlled possession of the ball for long periods of play, during which they precisely swung the ball around the field.
Presque Isle senior striker Wilder York caused the Coyotes defense problems throughout the game as he scored two goals for the Wildcats.
“We always try to pass the ball and possess it,” said Greaves. “We’re not a really tall team, we’re not maybe the fastest team, but we want to posses the ball and do smart things with it.”
Old Town defenders found themselves reaching at times as the Wildcats executed effective and accurate passes and fired off shots in bunches, keeping fans on the edge of their seats.
The Coyotes (6-6) held their ground, though, slowing the Wildcats down as much as possible.
Old Town rallied around freshman ‘keeper Scott Smart, who sparked a defense that was determined and played the Wildcats tough as they forced Presque Isle to earn every inch of the field throughout the game.
“Today we played great,” said Old Town head coach Mark Graffam. “The defense was strong and our ‘keeper had a lot of saves. He [Smart] was awesome.”
The Coyotes offense showed promise during multiple stretches in which they played balls into the box well but could not find ways to finish off their opportunities.
“It was a little bit frustrating,” said Old Town back Nathan Colannino. “We had a couple of chances there that if we could have put one in things would have turned out a little differently.”
Presque Isle defenders swarmed the ballcarrier and limited the scoring opportunities of Old Town’s forwards by using double-teams when needed, making it hard for the Coyotes to maintain flow and consistent possession.
“The biggest thing we wanted to do today was make a defensive stance,” said Greaves. “They have some of the best goal-scorers in Eastern Maine and we wanted to come out and make a statement that our defense is strong.”
Though the Coyotes wanted a different outcome, they aren’t hanging their heads about their performance.
“We played a great game against a senior-laden P.I. team and we did as best we could,” Graffam said. “We could have possessed the ball more but that was just their varsity experience. They played a great game and the turnout just didn’t come out how we wanted.”
The two teams started out slowly as the ball remained stuck at midfield during the first 20 minutes as each team tried to get a feel for the other’s defense.
The teams remained deadlocked at 0 with 2:00 left in the first half when Presque Isle turned up the pressure.
York picked up a ball that snuck behind Old Town defenders and quickly ripped a shot but Smart made a diving, one-handed stop and the Coyotes cleared.
Half a minute later, with 1:27 left in the half, York picked up a loose ball at the top of the Old Town box. York dribble-faked right and played the ball to his left foot to create all the space he needed as he blasted his shot into the short side of the net.
“I was going middle all game so I thought I’d change it up a little bit,” said York. “I thought maybe I could sneak one in with my left foot and it went in for me.”
York capitalized again for the Wildcats on a great throw-in by Ryley Norton at the 12-minute mark of the second half.
The Wildcats received a throw-in deep in Old Town territory. Norton heaved the ball into the box and ended up on the foot of York, who drilled a shot to the far side of the net for a goal.
“This was a statement game for us,” said York. “Last game we went to Ellsworth and lost 4-1 after being tied at halftime so I think this was a statement for everyone.”
Presque Isle senior Andrew Kofstad stood tall and made clutch saves when his team needed them. He finished with 10 saves on 11 shots.
Old Town freshman Smart made 22 saves on 32 shots for Old Town.
Three games remain on the schedule for each team as the regular season winds down. Each team expects to be in the playoffs as Presque Isle resides in fourth place in the Eastern Maine Class B Heal points while the Coyotes sit ninth with three teams separating them from the playoff cut line.
“I feel pretty confident we’re going to be in the playoffs, it’s just a matter of where we’re seeded,” said Graffam. “Obviously we need to win a couple of games. We’re 6-6 now so that’s a tenuous position to be in, but there is a lot of parity in Class B this year so we just have to take care of our own business.”