The Star-Herald

Caribou’s offense shut down as Presque Isle girls record upset win

The Vikings’ Hope Shea steps in to thwart Wildcat Emily Wheaton’s surge toward the ball during the match played Wednesday in Presque Isle. Wheaton scored the lone goal as PI handed Caribou its first loss of the season. (Courtesy of Dave Allen Graphics)

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Savannah Rodriguez’s fifth shutout of the season was by far her most rewarding one.

That’s because it came against one of the top offensive teams in the state and one that hadn’t lost.Presque Isle’s junior goalkeeper saved 10 shots to keep Caribou scoreless for the first time this year, leading the Wildcats to a 1-0 victory in Wednesday’s match played at the Johnson Athletic Complex.“I definitely can’t take all the credit for it,” Rodriguez said. “My defense, my midfield, my strikers, my wings, they all contributed to that. They were focused the whole game and never let up.”

Presque Isle coach Ralph Michaud concurred, saying that everyone needed to play a role in slowing down the attack that averaged over 6 goals per game, and that is exactly how it played out.

Madison Michaud of the Wildcats, left, eyes the bouncing ball while the Vikings’ Hope Shea approaches to defend the play. Presque Isle defeated Caribou Wednesday, 1-0. (Courtesy of Dave Allen Graphics)

Caribou is led by Searra Herbert, who has scored 21 goals, but the Vikes have many other girls who are capable scorers and Rodriguez said her team was aware of that.

“We had to mark their key players — Herbert, Hope Shea, Gabby Marquis. They have a lot of players with a strong foot,” Rodriguez said. “It was man-to-man defense and it worked.”

Michaud said Charlotte Carrier drew the assignment of marking Herbert and Wheaton had the same role with Shea. The rest of the team played its normal coverage and was up to the challenge.

“We didn’t have a lot of miskicks and everyone was aggressive to the 50-50 balls and you have to have that,” he said. “It was phenomenal team defense.”

Caribou’s Gabrielle Marquis has her scoring chance taken away by Wildcat goalkeeper Savannah Rodriguez during the Class B soccer match played Wednesday at the Johnson Athletic Complex in Presque Isle. Defender Allison Himes of the Wildcats is also in on the play. (Courtesy of Dave Allen Graphics)

The loss was the first of the season for Caribou, the top team in Class B North that now holds a 10-1 record. The Wildcats crept closer in the standings and are now in third place at 10-2.

The Vikes had won the first meeting, 2-1, in Caribou on Sept. 12.

The lone goal of the rematch came less than two minutes in. Senior Emily Wheaton took a pass from the wing off the foot of Mackenzie Turner. Wheaton was 15 yards in front of the goal when she beat her defender and buried a shot to the left of Caribou goalkeeper Jaelynn Doody.

Coach Michaud said the goal materialized due to the Caribou defense’s concentration in controlling PI’s Madison Michaud, who was held without a goal for the first time this season after tallying 25 over the first 11 games.

“It was like the parting of the seas,” said the coach. “Two defenders running to Maddie and Emily had the lane right to the goal.”

The Wildcats carried play over the ensuing 10 minutes before the Vikes took control and forced the action. Caribou held a 7-4 shot advantage in the first half and threatened on two of its four corner kicks, but was unable to break through.

Alexis Rodriguez of the Vikings gets up high to head the ball over Wildcat defender Charlotte Carrier during Wednesday’s match at the Johnson Athletic Complex in Presque Isle. (Courtesy of Dave Allen Graphics)

The second half was even, with Caribou managing to get off six shots compared to five by PI, but while Doody made some key stops and finished with five saves, Rodriguez came through with some huge plays herself to preserve the shutout.

One of those came with 24:30 remaining when the Vikes’ Ashley Matlock ripped a shot from close range that was deflected by Rodriguez before caroming off the left goal post and quickly landing in Rodriguez’s hands. That turned out to be Caribou’s best opportunity of the evening.

“I was not expecting that hard of a shot really,” Rodriguez said. “She has a cannon for a foot.”

The victory was the seventh consecutive for PI, whose season turned around following a disappointing 2-1 loss to Class C Fort Kent on Sept. 19.

“We’ve been stressing teamwork since then and it has been paying off,” Rodriguez said. “Every practice and every game since then, we’ve just stayed focused.”

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