Vikings come back to force tie with Wildcats
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Thirty minutes into Tuesday’s varsity girls soccer match between Presque Isle and Caribou, play was following the script of what many people expected.
PI senior striker Madison Michaud scored goals 13 minutes apart to put her team in front and the Wildcats, which returned 17 players from last year’s Class B North regional champions, were controlling play on their home field against a Caribou squad that had lost 11 players to graduation and was still developing chemistry under new coach Mark Shea.
Then, things quickly went the other way and two Alexis Rodriguez goals later, one coming late in the first half and the other midway through the second, helped Caribou pull out a 2-2 draw that felt more like a win for the Vikings.
“We knew we had to keep our heads up,” Rodriguez said of the comeback. “We’ve played them multiple times and on turf we’d always come up short, but we always had that gut feeling that we’d get them here one day.”
Following Michaud’s second goal with 10:15 left before intermission, which developed when she ran onto a long pass from defender Lydia Miller and beat Caribou keeper Sage Dubay in front of the net, the Vikings seized momentum.
With 5:41 to play, Rodriguez, a senior, tallied off an assist from freshman Gabrielle Sutherland on a break away down the left sideline after PI failed to clear the ball at midfield.
Just over a minute later, Presque Isle’s Paige McHatten threatened to restore the two-goal lead, but her shot from 25 yards out clanged off the crossbar and was cleared off the line.
The second half belonged to the Vikings. Rodriguez had a great chance with 25 minutes to play, but her shot also caromed off the crossbar. Then, with 15:57 remaining, she knotted the score by making a run from the left wing and converting a Joycelyn Hartin pass.
“We’ve always been the type of team where when something good happens, we kept up our energy,” Rodriguez said. “After I got that first one, everyone felt we actually had a chance to get another. Our determination really succeeded in this game.”
Michaud did create a pair of scoring chances for PI in the final 12 minutes and came close to notching the game-winner in the final seconds, but she fired one just over the crossbar right after the horn sounded to end the second half.
Caribou outshot PI 3-1 during the two overtime periods, but neither team was able to muster a quality opportunity and the rivals settled for the tie.
“I thought Caribou wanted it more,” said Wildcat coach Ralph Michaud. “The first 25 or 30 minutes we played great, and after we went up 2-0 our girls thought the game was over, and Caribou didn’t. I give a lot of credit to them because they played tough.”
“Between coaching soccer and basketball, I’ve been part of around 120 Caribou-Presque Isle games and I’ve seen Caribou teams that were not as good beat good Presque Isle teams, and Presque Isle teams not as good beat good Caribou teams,” he said. “Anything can happen.”
The Vikings (1-1-2) outshot the Wildcats (3-0-1), 12-10, with Dubay collecting five saves for Caribou and Rebecca Rider four for PI.
“We follow the lead of our senior tri-captains (Rodriguez, Monica McLaughlin and Willow Whitten) and when they are on, they set the tone for us,” Shea said. “They help all the other players play better than they thought they could and they did that tonight.”
Caribou had battled back from a four-goal deficit in the second half at Brewer Saturday and ended up losing 6-5, but Shea said his team again showed off that resiliency against the Wildcats.
“They know they can come back against anyone we play,” Shea said. “That’s our mentality — we refuse to lose.”