READFIELD — Both Winslow and Maranacook knew going into Tuesday night’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference clash that the more opportunistic team would have the upper hand.

As expected when two of top teams in the conference collide, opportunities weren’t that plentiful at Ricky Gibson Field of Dreams. Maranacook took advantage of the only one that mattered as Kodey Solmitz’s goal 11:34 into the game stood up and the defending Class C champions won their home-opener, 1-0.

“Coach (Don Beckwith) usually tells us the only way we’re going to make a goal is if we make a run off of it,” Solmitz said. “We can’t just play one-on-one. We need to pass it and cut. And that’s what we did.”

“Kodey plays with a different pace,” Beckwith said. “He creates a lot of problems for defenses with how quick he is. And our other two guys that work with him work their backsides off. That’s important.”

The play caught the Black Raiders back on their heels. A clear quickly developed into a counter, with Paul Martha dribbling down the left sideline with Solmitz to his right. Martha’s pass somehow made it through to Solmitz, who was well-marked, and Solmitz beat Winslow goalie Alex Berard with a low line drive to the far corner.

“I didn’t think the pass was going to make it, actually,” Martha said. “The kid just missed it.”

“It definitely caught us off guard,” Winslow coach Aaron Wolfe said. “We had to compose ourselves. It took us a little time into the first half. I felt like as the first half rolled on, we played a lot better than we did in the beginning of the game.”

In a physical contest that saw four yellow cards (two per side), the Black Raiders (1-1) had to scramble to make the shots on goal (14-12 Maranacook) close after putting little pressure on early. But even the vast majority of the shots they manufactured late in the first half and in the second half were from long range.

“They didn’t get any clean shots inside 40 (yards),” said Beckwith, who had to make some defensive adjustments with senior Matt DuBois having to sit out the game with a poison ivy infection. “That’s what we were looking for. (Goalie Justin) Freeman’s supposed to save the balls he gets to save and we’re supposed to take care of him. If we play defense like that, teams will be hard-pressed (to beat them).T”

Freeman finished with 10 saves for Maranacook (2-0), Berard with seven.

Winslow’s best chance came in the 23rd minute of the first half. A Maranacook clear got deflected back into the box to freshman Jake Warn, who had only Freeman to beat but sent the ball wide left.

The second half had very little flow, thanks in part to the Black Bears’ defense, led by juniors Chris Beckwith and Jason Brooks, seemed to challenge everything that moved in its end.

“It was just outworking them. That’s what we do best,” Beckwith said of Maranacook’s defensive effort. “I think Jason Brooks is a human brick wall. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves most of the time.”

Winslow’s best bid came with 14 minutes left on a through ball leading Jimmy Fowler to about 15 yards from the net, but the pass was too fast and he could only get the tip of his shoe on it before Freeman met him.

“We haven’t played a game that competitive in a long time,” said Winslow coach Aaron Wolfe, whose team beat Waterville, 9-0, in its first game last Friday. “So I think it took us a little time to get involved in the game, and it was little too long because they put that goal in and put us behind a little bit.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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