CARIBOU, Maine — After falling in all three matchups last season to the Presque Isle Wildcats, including a three-goal loss in the Class B North quarterfinals, the Caribou Vikings earned some redemption Tuesday night on their home field.
The Vikes notched the tying goal with 1:04 left in the first half, then dominated play after intermission, culminating with the go-ahead tally with 25:49 remaining. That was enough in the 2-1 triumph, which gave Caribou its fifth consecutive soccer victory to begin the season.
Presque Isle suffered its first loss after opening with three straight wins.
Seniors had a hand in both Caribou goals. Right wing Ashley Matlock took a through pass from Searra Herbert with time winding down in the first half and ripped a shot past goalkeeper Savannah Rodriguez to make it 1-1.
“Early on we were playing their game and kicking too much, but we finally got nice a through ball and finished it,” said Viking coach Todd Albert. “We really needed that and the momentum helped up going into halftime.”
Both Herbert and Matlock had excellent chances to give their team the lead early in the second half, but Rodriguez made a pair of nifty stops. Then after a Presque Isle foul, Hope Shea’s free kick from the corner found the foot of Herbert in front of the goal, who volleyed it past Rodriguez for her 10th goal of the season.
“We’re more of a possession team and we started connecting more on passes,” Albert said of the second-half performance.
The coach added that he was pleased with the play of his midfielders. Gabrielle Marquis, Willow Whitten and Hope Shea were successful in controlling the middle and igniting the offensive attack over the final 40 minutes. The Vikings outshot the Wildcats by a 10-5 margin in the second half.
“I tried to keep them fresh because there is a lot of running, so I made sure they went in and out so they could go out and do their job,” Albert said.
For the first time in four games, Presque Isle junior forward Madison Michaud failed to score multiple goals. She did put her team on the scoreboard first off an Emily Wheaton assist 6:02 into the match, her eighth goal of the year, but was held in check the rest of the way.
“She has a lot of footwork and she’s very fast,” said Vikings senior back Meagan Dube, who ended up covering Michaud for a majority of the game, “so I needed to stay on her the whole time and just tried to beat her to the ball.”
Michaud did break free for her best chance of the second half at the 13:10 mark, but goalkeeper Jaelynn Doody came to the top of the 18 to meet Michaud and ripped the ball away. The Wildcats tried to spark the offense over the final five minutes by bringing Wheaton to the front line and Charlotte Carrier from the back to midfield, but Caribou’s defense held strong.
Doody made five saves on nine shots, while Rodriguez collected nine saves on 15 shots for PI.