ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine women put on an impressive display of attacking soccer Friday afternoon en route to a 5-1 victory over The Citadel (S.C.) on sun-drenched Alumni Field.
Waterville’s Jordan Pellerin snapped a 1-1 tie at the 33:06 mark of the first half and Liis Emajoe scored 3:22 later as Maine improved to 1-1 entering a 1 p.m. Sunday game against No. 22 UConn at Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Conn.
It was the season-opener for The Citadel, which had beaten Maine 3-1 in South Carolina two years ago.
Nikki Misener and Bangor freshman Ashley Robinson added insurance goals 2:32 apart early in the second half.
Meaghan Bradica opened the scoring 9:08 into the game, but Mariana Garcia equalized 8:56 later.
“I liked our mentality in the attacking third,” said Maine coach Scott Atherley. “We had a great attacking mentality and that’s important. I liked the number of quality chances we generated. We were also able to play our entire bench and that was important because we’re still evaluating and trying to figure out who can play where.”
Pellerin’s game-winner resulted from a Joanie L’Abbe corner kick.
L’Abbe drove a low diagonal corner to the top of the penalty area. Lisa Bijman chipped it with authority across to Pellerin, who instinctively glanced a header that sailed past Citadel goalkeeper Sarah Katchen from 12 yards out.
“We set the play up that way,” explained Pellerin. “We put three on the goalie, which is kind of overwhelming [for the goalie], and we have someone run into the gap. Then the three of us in the middle just pick up the scraps.
“I didn’t have much time to react. It just happened.”
Emajoe converted a low cross from Bradica, who ran on to a Pellerin pass and sent the ball across the penalty area.
The ball carried through a maze of legs to the far post where Emajoe slotted it past the helpless goalie.
“[Pellerin] made a run and the defense didn’t know what to do, and I was open in the back. I just had to kick it in,” said Emajoe, a sophomore from Estonia.
Misener directed a deflected pass from Charlene Achille past second-half goalie Cassie Palmacci, and Robinson guided a L’Abbe pass off the post and into the net from the middle of the box for her first collegiate goal.
“It’s very exciting. I really wanted to get one today,” said the former Bangor High School star. “I barely got anything on it, but it hit the post and went in.”
Bradica had staked Maine to a 1-0 lead when she tracked down a well-slotted diagonal pass from Pellerin in the right corner of the box and had her cross sail over Katchen’s head into the far corner.
Garcia tied it when she tapped home the rebound of a Kimberly Maldonado shot from point-blank range that was saved by Lauren Swant. Maldonado’s shot came off an Anastasia Mesa corner.
Maine attempted 24 shots to the hard-working but undermanned Bulldogs’ nine.
Swant made one first-half save for Maine, and Megan Price-Leibenzeder wasn’t required to make one in the second half.
Katchen had three first-half saves and Palmacci had one in the second half.
Palmacci is the daughter of former Black Bear football player and 1978 Maine graduate Jed Palmacci.
“Maine’s pressure was very good. They forced us to make bad passes. They’re very well organized and they went forward well as a team,” said Bulldogs coach Bob Winch.
“They’re a good team,” added junior midfielder-striker Garcia. “They’re fast, they were bigger than us and they have good athletes.”
Bradica (ankle) and Swant (leg) suffered injuries and are questionable for Sunday’s game.