The beginning of the University of Maine women’s soccer team’s final regular-season game didn’t look as though it would end in a tie, but after the horn signaled the end double overtime, the score stood 3-3.
Many players, seniors and underclassmen have played heavier minutes, due to the team’s many injuries as of late.
“I am so proud of them,” head coach Scott Atherley said. “I really appreciate the fact that they made such a strong commitment in the offseason to really help integrate our new players but also to re-establish the values that have been in our program.
“I’m very grateful for all of their efforts and attitude,” Atherley continued.
The Black Bears started off strong in the game against Albany, despite the nagging injuries. “We’ve had many injuries and this next week off will at least get us [junior midfielder Maggie Malone] back,” Atherley said.
Both goalies played strong games Thursday afternoon. UMaine senior goalkeeper Megan Price-Leibenzeder saw 21 shots go her way and made eight saves.
After UMaine junior midfielder Nikki Misener had her shot stopped, her rebound went in to put UMaine up 1-0 early in the game. After the goal, UMaine senior goalkeeper Meagan Price-Leibenzeder had two big saves to stop Albany from tying the game. Freshman back Noelle Leon-Palmer also had a strong performance to help UMaine’s defense.
The Black Bears had plenty of opportunities that were either turned away or couldn’t hit the net. Eventually, another goal was scored in the 33rd minute of play. Misener and freshman back Joanie L’Abbe assisted freshman forward Charlene Achille in putting Maine up 2-0.
The Black Bears had a few more chances before the half ended, but freshman goalkeeper Alana Brennan of Albany turned them away. UMaine connected well on their passes and were running on all cylinders at the end of the first half.
The second half was a complete turnaround.
Albany came out of the break strong and soon after the second half got started they got their first goal. Senior Forward Casey Marks scored off a pass from freshman midfielder Krista Fitzpatrick to make it 2-1.
Less than a minute later, Albany tied the game at 2-2 on a break away by senior forward Shayla Bergeron. Not even 30 seconds later, UMaine freshman midfielder Alex Abrahams put Maine back up, 3-2, off a pass from freshman forward Eve L’Abbe.
The quick scoring didn’t stop there. No more than 20 seconds later, senior midfielder Chelsea DeVerna tied the game again for Albany off an assist by Bergeron.
“I thought we had a great start, a great first half and had the momentum going into the second half, but Albany is a great team. They were in the conference championship last year and have a lot of experience and we knew they weren’t going to lay down against us,” Atherley said.
From there, neither team could get much of anything going. Each team had corner kick opportunities, including three for UMaine during overtime play, but they just couldn’t get anything by the goalie.
Toward the end of the game, UMaine looked like they were back to where they were in the first half, but once they got the ball in Albany’s zone, they couldn’t finish. The Black Bears finished with 11 shots to Albany’s 21. UMaine had six corner kicks, while Albany had five.
“Albany did what good teams do: they stayed persistent and got one back and then a second one back,” Atherley said. “Mentally, we just had some key lapses and a good team will make you pay for that.”
With the tie, the Black Bears move to 7-6-3 while Albany is 5-10-2.
UMaine was awarded a first-round bye in the America East conference tournament and will host their semi-final matchup Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. The Black Bears will face the winner of the quarterfinal contest between Stony Brook University and the University of New Hampshire.