The University of Maine (7-8) women’s soccer team dropped a hard-fought regular season finale 2-1 to the University of Albany (7-4-3) Great Danes on Thursday, when first-year Albany forward Meghan Cavanaugh scored in the 84th minute to break a 1-1 tie.
“This is a team that went to the NCAA tournament last year, that won the conference. I thought we dominated much of play,” Maine Head Coach Scott Atherley said.
In the first half, it was second-year goalie Samantha Cobotic keeping the Black Bears in the game with several key saves amidst long spurts of Albany pressure. In the 12th minute, the Great Danes broke through and let loose a hard shot that Cobotic was able to punch over the crossbar. On the ensuing corner kick, a headed effort by Albany sent Cobotic lunging to her left to get a hand on the ball for an impressive save. Cobotic finished the game with nine saves.
Though they were often on the defensive, Maine was able to muster several solid scoring chances of their own in the first half. Fifteen minutes in, second-year forward Anetra Byfield beat her defender down the right sideline and slid a beautiful pass to second-year midfielder Vivien Beil at the top of the goal box. But Beil’s shot deflected off a defender’s shin and went wide right. In the 27th minute it was Byfield creating some space and getting an open look. But her shot was high, missing over the crossbar.
With the ball to start the second half, Maine came out hard. At the 50th minute mark Beil and Byfield shot again. Beil split two defenders to lead Byfield into a hard shot right at Albany goalie redshirt first-year Chloe Borasky. Borasky’s save bounced once inside the goal box before Beil followed the play and blasted it home for the 1-0 lead.
“Our patience was great, our possession was great, we were able to get the ball wide,” Atherley said. “Our players did everything we asked them to do.”
But the Great Danes were equally patient and their patience was rewarded when second-year Albany defender Meghan Malone found the net nine minutes later to tie it 1-1.
From there it was a back and forth contest with neither team getting any solid scoring chances, until the 78 minutes in, when an Albany cross skirted across the Maine goal line. But Albany failed to get a foot on it as it rolled out of bounds.
As overtime began to loom, it was Cavanaugh who put it away for the Great Danes in the 84th minute with her fourth goal of the season.
“I was running toward the goal and my teammate Mariah (Williams) was dribbling and had three people on her and I was screaming my head off,” Cavanaugh said after the game. “And then she really nicely laid it off to me and I just passed it in.”
On a night where the Black Bears honored their two seniors, Riin Emajoe and Hannah Lipinski, Atherley expressed his optimism about the club’s future.
“I think we draw all the positives,” Atherley said. “We have 18 freshmen and sophomores on our roster and to see where we started the year vs. now. If this is our last game I think it’s completely all positives.”
The Black Bears will enter championship play on Thursday, Oct. 27 in Durham, N.H. against the University of New Hampshire. Albany will play the winner of this game on Sunday, Oct. 30 at home