The University of Maine women’s soccer team played their final regular season game on Friday, Oct. 27, against their rivals, the University of New Hampshire Wildcats. In a defensive battle, the game was a 0-0 tie at the end of regulation, capping off a 9-1-6 and 4-1-3 conference play season good enough for the second-seed and a first-round bye in the America East Conference playoffs. This marks the highest seed UMaine has ranked since 2005.
“We played well in moments, and the most important thing was the outcome,” Black Bears head coach Scott Atherley said after the game. “We didn’t get a number of opportunities in the second half, but neither did they.”
The game was initially scheduled to happen on Thursday. However, due to the Lewiston shootings that occurred Wednesday night, the game was moved to Friday. Before the game, the team held a moment of silence to remember the 18 people who lost their lives.
The game was defined by how well the goaltenders played. UMaine’s goaltender, fifth-year Kira Kutzinski, saw nine shots, though the defense made sure none of them were threatening. The same cannot be said for UNH as second-year goaltender Sally Rainey saw 14 shots, multiple of which were threatening shots on goal, including deflecting a shot high that looked like a for-sure goal, securing the tie.
Throughout the season, the Black Bears have proven to be one of the most threatening teams entering the playoffs. The season kicked off against Le Moyne College, where UMaine dominated, winning 5-0, beginning a nine-game winning streak until they faced off against the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks. The Black Bears faltered and would lose 2-0. After this loss, UMaine did not lose another game all season.
UMaine’s top offensive player this season, without a doubt, is second-year forward Abby Kraemer, who led the team in goals with 11 to 29 shots on goal and was second on the team with four assists, with her being the only player on the team to average a goal a game. In comparison, the next highest goal scorer is her older sister, fourth-year Kayla Kraemer, with four goals. As in the UNH game, UMaine had multiple shot opportunities but failed to capitalize off them, something the team needs to do in the playoffs.
“Our buildups were great, and the entries into the final third were great, but what was missing was the final pass,” Atherley said about the offense after the game.
Kutzinski started all 16 games for the Black Bears, saving 58 shots, with her save percentage being 0.806. Kutzinski has been a major reason for UMaine’s success, and she will be important for the playoffs.
UMaine will face off against the winner of UNH vs University of Vermont (UVM) this Thursday, Nov. 2. If UNH wins, the Black Bears will face off against them again, and it should be another tight playoff. Third-year forward Meghan Guarente leads the team with five goals. Rainey has started all 15 games for UNH with 62 saves and a 0.849 save percentage. She will be the centerpiece for success as she was in the first game.
If UMaine plays UVM, they will face off against a different team specializing in offense instead of defense. UVM is led on offense by third-year forward Kate Bossart, who has 10 goals with a 0.581 shots-on-goal percentage. Third-year midfielder Bailey Ayer is second on the team with five goals and a 0.478 shots-on-goal percentage. Goaltender-wise, both fifth-year Erin Murphy and second-year Kylee Carafoli have split the games this year, with both finding minimal success, with Murphy having a 0.839 save percentage to Caraolis’ 0.769. The last time the Black Bears faced UVM, UMaine won 3-2.