SOUTH CHINA — Erskine boys soccer coach Phil Hubbard knew what to expect from Maranacook on Tuesday and he reacted by packing in his defense.
The strategy backfired against the unbeaten Black Bears as they scored twice in the first half en route to a 2-1 win in Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B play.
Senior Alec Daigle and sophomore Kent Mohlar scored for Maranacook (6-0-0) while Ryan Rodrigue scored a late goal for Erskine (5-1-0). Maranacook held an advantage in size and experience and Hubbard reacted accordingly.
“You play good defense and you hope it leads to offense,” said Hubbard, who employed a double stopper in the first half. “It backfired on me today so I reversed it in the second half.”
The Black Bears were just a little too talented for the Eagles no matter what the strategy, but Erskine did make them squirm a little after Rodrigue scored with 8 minutes, 20 seconds left. His soft shot from 10 yards out fooled Maranacook keeper Brad Worster (three saves), who allowed his first goal in six games this season.
“I anticipated instead of reacting,” Worster said. “I went one way and the ball knuckled a little bit. It didn’t bend like I expected it to.”
The goal pumped some life into the Eagles, who had played most of the game in their own end of the field. The shot against Worster was only the third of the game and the only one that had a legitimate chance of getting past him. The Black Bears, on the other hand, peppered Erskine keeper Jared Gartley (15 saves) with 17 shots on goal and several near misses.
“I thought we were a little complacent,” Maranacook coach Don Beckwith said. “We’ve got to be a little better defensively.”
Beckwith used several substitutes during the game and his team didn’t appear to miss a beat. They were especially strong through the middle of the field where Mohlar and Alex Tooth excelled up front, Daigle and Taylor Wilbur played well at midfield and senior Nick Lacasse was strong in the back.
“This is by far the best team we’ve played so far,” Hubbard said.
Daigle put the Bears on the scoreboard with a shot just inside the penalty area with 6:40 gone in the first half.
“(Tooth) crossed it and I trapped it off my chest then vollyed it,” Daigle said.
Mohlar scored the eventual game-winner with 3:08 left in the half as he floated a shot from 15 yards over Gartley’s hands, moments after Gartley robbed him with a diving save.
Game notes: The teams played for the first time in several seasons. Erskine has been playing in Class A, but dropped to Class B this season when schools were reclassified based on current enrollments. Maranacook has dropped to Class C but is maintaining its Class B schedule and is eligible for the KVAC championship.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638