It has been a flaming hot start for the University of Maine soccer team, as they remain the only undefeated team in America East women’s soccer through the first week of conference play.
After defeating Vermont in dramatic fashion on Sunday at the Mahaney Diamond, the Black Bears have advanced to 6-0-3, and are one of a select few DI women’s soccer programs who have not yet lost this year.
Sunday’s game against Vermont kept Maine’s undefeated streak in the balance until the final moments, as a healthy crowd was treated to a dramatic conference matchup on a windy afternoon.
Vermont struck first, when Catamount Lauren DeGroot capitalized on a collision between Maine’s goaltender, fifth-year Kira Kutzinski, and a defender. DeGroot was left with a tap-in goal at almost 40 minutes in, which remained the only tally of the first half.
The Black Bears found an equalizer 24 seconds into the second half when third-year forward Abby Kraemer fought multiple Catamounts for possession, before burying a beautiful shot in the top right corner of the net. Kraemer has been instrumental in Maine’s success this year, leading the team with seven goals, which is tied for 18th most among all DI women’s soccer players.
Twenty-two minutes later, the Catamounts put Maine on the ropes when DeGroot found herself with the ball in front of the goal mouth for her second tap-in of the game. Kuzintzki overcommitted on a rushing striker and left the net open for the easy score.
Things were looking bleak for Maine’s undefeated streak until the 88th minute, when first-year defender Luise Reinwald scored her first career goal on a header, made possible by a gorgeous cross on a corner kick from third-year midfielder Kristina Kelly.
Reinwald is a two-time America East rookie of the week this year, and has positioned herself well to be selected for that award a third time.
After securing the draw in the waning moments, Maine wasn’t finished. Second-year forward Jordan Pinette iced the game for Maine after tapping in a beautiful through ball by Kristina Kelly, who secured her second assist in 14 seconds. The last few seconds were a formality from there, as the Black Bears won their sixth game of the season in an heart-pounding comeback effort.
The win preserves Maine’s undefeated record, as well as a home undefeated streak that dates back to Oct. 14, 2021. Picked third in the preseason poll, Maine now has a decisive lead in the America East conference with an .833 win percentage and perfect 1-0 conference record.
Maine’s next challenge is a road game this Sunday at the University at Albany, who have struggled out of the gate at 3-4-1. They began their in-conference schedule with a draw at New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Needless to say, expectations are soaring for a UMaine team whom nobody expected to be this dominant out of the gate. If you want to bear witness to some entertaining soccer, the Black Bears’ next home game is on Sunday, Oct. 15 at 1 p.m.