Maine has a relatively young team that has yet to establish itself as a team to be reckoned with.
But last Sunday, the Black Bears were easy prey for the Harvard women's soccer team, which opened its season with a convincing 4-1 victory in Orono, Me.
The Black Bears were simply no match for the Crimson's firepower, as Harvard pounded Maine's goalie Donna Ricci with 22 shots on goal.
In contrast, the Black Bears could produce only eight shots against the Crimson defense.
The only time the Black Bears were able to mount any attack at all was at the opening of the second half with the score already 2-0 in Harvard's favor. The Black Bears' relentless pressure eventually resulted in a score to draw Maine within one.
"They started pressing, and it was tight for about 10 minutes," Harvard Assistant Coach Stacy Flionis said. "Then we stepped it up a lot and put in two more goals."
The game against Maine offered the Crimson a chance to brush up its skills against a weaker opponent before Harvard faces league competition.
Although the Crimson clearly overwhelmed Maine with talent and execution, Harvard's play was less than perfect.
"Against Maine, we had a lot of brilliant moments," Co-Captain Amy Weinstein said. "But we tended to let up sometimes."
"It was our first game," Coach Tim Wheaton said, "and, as for any team playing its first game, we have some rough edges we need to smooth out. But that will come quickly with time."
The scoring opened in the 25th minute as junior forward Laurie Uustal tallied for the Crimson with an assist from senior forward Jen Minkus. Minkus fought and won a fight with a Maine back for the ball, then passed to Uustal who drove it into the net.
Minkus needed no help the second time around as she scored unassisted just minutes later to put the Crimson ahead, 2-0.
"Jen definitely adds another dimension to this team," Wheaton said. "She's very aggressive, hustles in front of the goal, and pursues the ball everywhere."
Co-Captain Robin Johnston, the Crimson's leading scorer a year ago, came alive in the second half, powering the Crimson offense with two unassisted goals--one on a direct kick--to quell any hopes of a Bears comeback.
The Crimson's offensive prowess did not overshadow the terrific performance of sophomore goalie Brooke Donahoe, who amassed a 1-1-1 record with a 1.08 goals-against average last year.
"Brooke made some fantastic and crucial saves," Flionis said.
With experienced fullbacks in front of her, Donahoe anchored the Crimson's solid 'D'. The defense, coupled with a potentially explosive offense, will help Harvard contend for the Ivy title.
"I think we have a very good team this year," Wheaton said. "With Robin [Johnston], Laurie [Uustal], and Jen [Minkus] up front, and Erin [Matias] organizing the defense, we have a very balanced and strong squad."
THE NOTEBOOK: Minkus joins the soccer team for her first season. The senior midfielder has also earned Varsity letters in both tennis and ice hockey.
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