By Ryan McLaughlin
BANGOR — Shaky starts have bedeviled the Presque Isle girls soccer team the last few years in road games against John Bapst, even though the Wildcats have always managed to pull out victories in the Queen City.
But that would not be the case Saturday, as coach Ralph Michaud’s club scored two goals in the first six and a half minutes en route to a 4-0 victory at a wind-swept Dorothea Dix field.
“In the past few years, they’ve at least got a couple goals on us, but we started out right quick today,” said Wildcats junior forward Kayla Richards, one of four Presque Isle players who tallied a goal apiece.
The Wildcats, who improved to 8-2-1, were facing a talented John Bapst (7-4-2) goalkeeper in Abby Pyne, who limited Presque Isle to one goal in a game earlier this fall.
But Presque Isle did an excellent job of keeping its shots low, as Pyne is tall and athletic.
“We were ready, we were thinking about what we had to do, because the goalie, she’s a very good player, so we were just thinking we had to control the game,” sophomore striker Chandler Guerrette said.
It was Guerrette who opened the scoring 4:17 into the match, blasting a low shot into the left side of the goal from just inside the penalty area, with Megan Ireland getting the assist.
Chelsea Nickerson set up Richards at the 33:37 mark, sending a high, arching free kick into the penalty area. Richards took a couple of dribbles and placed the ball past Pyne.
Shae Adler scored with an assist from Richards with 12:20 left in the first half, while Nickerson supplied the Wildcats’ final goal with a direct kick 12:52 into the second half.
The Wildcats controlled play with their possession game on this blustery afternoon, and their midfielders did a solid job of controlling Pyne’s long punts out of the goal.
“We practiced all week with the ‘keeper’s long, long punt,” Michaud said. “I thought we did a nice job with hustling back. In Presque Isle she was punting over everybody. We made sure if it goes over one line, it’s not going to go over both lines.”
Michaud also noticed quite a bit of fire in his team, which moved up to third place in the Heal point standings with its fifth consecutive win.
“We’ve always played John Bapst on a weekday during harvest, I don’t know if its a Saturday thing [but] we’re used to getting on the bus on a Saturday,” he said. “That’s the best a Presque Isle Wildcat team has played on this field since I’ve been coaching.”
The ‘Cats were also very aggressive in the offensive end, wearing down the Crusaders’ back line with their quickness while also playing clean, physical soccer.
“Most downstate teams play a lot more physical than we do, so we knew that we were going to have to play physical,” Guerrette said.
Pyne had five saves on nine shots for John Bapst and Meredith Stewart four on nine for Presque Isle.