STANDISH, Maine – University of New England (1-0-0) topped Saint Joseph's College (0-1-0), 4-1, in a non-conference women's soccer contest that served as the 2014 season-opener for both programs at Westerlea Way Field on Friday afternoon.
The in-state rivals played mostly even during a scoreless 30 minute stretch to open the game, but Nor'easters sophomore Jessica Meader (Scarborough, Maine) snapped the deadlock with the help of a nice touch pass in the 31st minute. After receiving the feed near the top of the box in the center of the field, Meader broke free with Saint Joseph's sophomore keeper Marina Cameron (Houlton, Maine) leaving her post to challenge. The second-year striker sidestepped the Monks' netminder and followed her shot into an empty net to lift the visitors to a 1-0 edge with 14:14 left in the opening half.
The Nor'easters proceeded to double their lead in the 42nd minute when the Monks experienced a defensive lapse in the box following a corner kick. Senior Lindsey Monaco (Holyoke, Mass.) delivered the corner from the left, a low, bouncing shot towards the left post, but the ball took several fortuitous bounces into the heart of the box, where several SJC defenders attempted to clear, and the sphere eventually landed on the foot of senior midfielder Margaret Palmer (Scarborough, Maine), who drilled a shot to the top right corner to propel UNE to a 2-0 advantage.
University of New England managed to add to the lead on a slick corner play midway through the second stanza. Taking the corner from the right, sophomore Taylor Littlefield (Sanford, Maine) sent a deliberate pass to second-year Katelyn Pierson (Saco, Maine) near the top right corner of the box. Pierson dribbled toward the target and delivered a shot to the lower left corner of the net as Meader simultaneously streaked, left to right, to the right post, effectively screening Monks netminder Amelia Tooker (Westfield, Mass.) – who entered in goal to start the second half – making it a 3-0 game with 19:30 remaining.
Saint Joseph's finally found the scoreboard in the 82nd minute when senior midfielder Megan Ford (Pembroke, Mass.) netted the first goal of her career. Staying persistent in pursuing the ball in the midst of several UNE defenders, Ford gained control and unleashed a shot from the 20 that caromed off a Nor'easters back and over the head of visiting keeper Sarah Papapietro (Bonita, Calif.) to make it a 3-1 contest.
Any momentum gained from Ford's tally was short-lived however, as UNE went on to regain a three-goal cushion just over three minutes later when an attempted cross off the foot of junior midfielder Kayla Hamel (Lewiston, Maine) wound up in the top left corner of the net, accounting for the 4-1 final.
In goal, Cameron took the loss after making four stops and allowing a pair of scores in her first NCAA start. Tooker tallied a pair of saves and yielded two goals in the second half. UNE starter Emily Richard (Arundel, Maine) was untested in nearly 80 minutes between the pipes and picked up the victory while Papapietro made one save and allowed a goal in 10:10 of mop-up duty.
Despite the result, several newcomers enjoyed solid outings in their first taste of NCAA action. Shaina Speight (Biddeford, Maine), a defender, made a handful of impact plays and midfielder Sarah Comtois (Lowell, Mass.) made her presence known in the heart of the pitch. While both Speight and Comtois started in their first collegiate contest, several others also made their NCAA debut in the 2014 opener: Allie Morrill (Cumberland, Maine), Angela Valenti (Litchfield, N.H.), Lauren Stiles (Gorham, Maine) and Delaney Kasle (North Reading, Mass.).
With the loss, Saint Joseph's falls to 13-9-3 in the history of the series with University of New England. The Monks are 15-11-1 all-time in season-openers.
Saint Joseph's returns to action tomorrow with a non-conference contest at Wheaton College starting at 5:00 PM. University of New England is off until next Saturday when the Nor'easters play host to in-state rival University of Maine-Farmington in a 1:00 PM start.
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 430-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.