WATERVILLE — Marcus Johnson blew kisses to the crowd after one of his two goals. Michael Hand played for the first time in two weeks and racked up two assists. And tempers were certainly on display near the end of the game.
Naturally, the Thomas College men’s soccer team ultimately wants the North Atlantic Conference title.
But Wednesday night’s 4-0 NAC semifinal win over a Maine Maritime Academy team that eliminated the Terriers from the tournament last year, that was pretty sweet.
“The guys that were a part of that last year really had a fire in their belly coming in to this one,” Thomas coach Chris Parsons said. “So I think that was a big difference for us.”
Thomas (14-2-2) will host Husson for the NAC championship on Saturday. The game will be at 1 p.m., unless the schools agree on a different time.
The Terriers did not dominate the game, but they converted more of their chances. They took a 1-0 lead with 27 minutes, 11 seconds left in the first half, when Paul Rechichi headed in a pass from Kenny Cano. MMA goalie William Trace Lacour got his hands on the shot, but it bounced off them and just over the line.
Thomas went up 2-0 a little over six minutes later. Maranacook graduate Dakota Duplissie took a shot from the left side that appeared to go off Lacour and a Mariners defender before settling in the net.
Still, the Mariners ending up out-shooting the Terriers, 15-12. Just in the first half, Thomas goalkeeper Mikkail Crockwell made a fantastic diving save to deny Nicholas George from close range, then leaped to deflect a long blast by Mt. Blue grad Ben Russell off the crossbar.
“I think it was a fairly even game,” Parsons said. “When we were up 2-0, we were put on our heels quite a bit.”
Johnson, one of six Thomas players who hails from Bermuda, sent home two goals in the second half. The first came with 17:50 to play, and the second 1:12 late. Hand assisted on both goals, and Joshua Phelps also assisted on the first goal.
The game degenerated from that point. While it was still 2-0, MMA midfielder Abdullah Alkhayyat picked up a yellow card for grabbing a Thomas player. With about 10 minutes left, an MMA player yelled to an official to ask how long Crockwell could hold the ball. Crockwell replied, “As long as I want,” before kicking it.
Less than a minute later, Alkhayyat slid into Crockwell and was given his second yellow card, resulting in an ejection. What followed was a little pushing and a lot of shouting between the teams, but the rest of the game was played without incident.
Thomas and Husson have met once this season, with the Terriers winning 1-0 in Bangor on Sept. 15.
“Husson’s going to be a tough team,” Parsons said. “They’re big and they’re strong. They’re very good on restarts — I think they’ve scored 75, 80 percent of their goals on restarts. So we have to score on them early and play good defense.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243