South Portland, ME - Today the Knights travelled to South Portland ME to face the Sea Wolves of Southern Maine Community College, and after 90 minutes of regulation found themselves in familiar territory. "Four times" implored team Captain David Mattern (South Royalton, VT) as his teammates readied to return to the field for overtime play. "Four times we went to overtime last season, and four times we lost. Let's win this one."
The Knights played their most composed soccer of the season through the first scoreless overtime period and continued it into the second when they found the back of the net to end the game in the 106th minute, notching a win in their first conference match of the season. The Knights advance to 2-2-0 on the season, while SMCC drops to 0-2-0.
The teams were relatively evenly matched through much of the first half, with both teams threatening with quick transitions from defense to offense and long balls up the middle, but neither team possessing the ball particularly well nor creating particularly noteworthy goal scoring opportunities. The Knights had 6 shots to the Sea Wolves 14, but managed 4 corner kicks to their opponents 1.
The Knights changed their tack the second half, playing a decidedly more possession-based approach. The long high balls that had become so predictable, and unsuccessful, the first half were replaced with shorter passes to feet and through balls toward the corners collected by fast-charging outside wings.
The Knights struck, in the 53rd minute, when a four-pass combination out of the backfield saw left back Danny Bordner (Northfield, MA) win the ball and play it forward to the feet of Phil Hepburn (Milton, VT). Hepburn turned and played it to Xavier Robitaille (Enosburg Falls, VT) on the end line inside the 18. Robitaille advanced threateningly toward goal before slotting it back to unmarked Captain Matt Brien (Colchester) on the top of the goal box who cleanly finished it. The Sea Wolves answered in the 80th minute on a penalty kick by Hanssen Casey to even the score 1-1. Momentum seemed to shift with that strike, and the Sea Wolves pressed hard, but without success, for the remainder of regulation.
The Knights emphasized possession in overtime, and while SMCC wasn't without scoring opportunities, the Knights seemed in command. Near-misses by Hunter Pockett (Proctor, VT), Scott Shepherd (Grantham, NH), and Phillip Hepburn (Milton, VT) left Knights fans uneasily recalling the OT losses of the previous season. But the players had other intentions, and in the 103rd minute, Xavier Robitaille (Enosburg Falls, VT) laid a short ball out to Hepburn who touched it forward before drilling it past the Sea Wolves keeper to seal the win for the Knights.
"This was a big win for us, said Captain Matt Brien. To know we can play a strong game in overtime and take the win is really important for our team's confidence."
The Knights take the field next on Wednesday at 5:00 for their second conference game, against perennially-strong New Hampshire Technical College. They return to Maine on Sunday for a 3:00 match against Central Maine CC, another conference opponent, before taking a well-deserved week-long break from competition.