LEWISTON, Maine — Eric Opoku scored two goals in his college soccer debut, and Peabo Knoth assisted on two goals as Bates defeated UMaine-Farmington 3-0 Wednesday night at Garcelon Field in the Bobcats’ season opener.
Opoku (Accra, Ghana), 5-foot-5, 135 pounds and speedy, electrified the large crowd in scoring the first two goals of the season.
In the game’s ninth minute, senior forward Knoth (Portland, Maine) threaded a through-ball bouncing on the artificial turf to Opoku near the top of the UMF penalty area. Opoku stayed onsides and finished the play by squeezing a shot between Beavers goalkeeper Matt Wilson (Hamden, Conn.) and the near post.
The rookie added an equally sensational goal in the 51st minute, coming up with a loose ball from 25 yards out and sneaking a low shot through a gap in the UMF defense and past Wilson, whose view of the shot may have been shielded.
Bates opened a 3-0 lead in the 70th minute with junior Nate Merchant (Los Angeles, Calif.) scoring on Knoth’s second assist. The two forwards combined on a takeaway and Knoth fed Merchant, who carried along Garcelon Field’s 10-yard line until he was in front of the UMF goal, when he flicked a 90-degree volley that found the net under the crossbar.
Bates sophomore Robbie Montanaro (Belmont, Mass.) earned a shutout in his first start in goal, collecting one save. Wilson made three saves for the Beavers.
Bates held an 18-2 advantage in shots attempted, including a 6-1 difference in shots on goal. The Bobcats also had 10 corner kicks to UMF’s two.
Bates (1-0) won its eighth consecutive non-conference game, a streak that dates to 2014. The Bobcats will host Hamilton in their NESCAC opener on Saturday at 2pm, at Russell Street Field.
UMF (1-1) suffered its first loss and will next play a non-league game at Pine Manor Saturday at 3 p.m.