CARIBOU, Maine — After Caribou’s tough season-opening loss at home to Fort Kent last week, Vikings girls soccer coach Todd Albert switched things up a bit for Friday’s matchup with Houlton.

The Vikings realigned their offense, moving speedy Emily Collins from striker to outside midfielder to try to stretch the field and utilize their quickness.

It worked, as Caribou scored two unanswered goals in the second half to post a 3-1 victory over the Shiretowners at the high school field. Houlton had rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to tie the game at 1-1.

“We didn’t play well offensively [against Fort Kent], so we had to make a couple changes,” said Albert. “Against Fort Kent we were up the middle way too much. We had to get to our outsides and attack that way.”

The Vikings’ attackers stuck to the wings in the attacking third most of the game, and that produced plenty of scoring chances.

However, Caribou couldn’t seem to find the net in the early going despite possessing the ball in Houlton’s half of the field. Albert’s changes paid off in the 12th minute, as Jenna Selander booted home a cross from Abby Small at the top of the penalty area to give the Vikes the early lead.

The hosts had plenty of other chances throughout the half, outshooting the Shiretowners 15-9, but they were hesitant on many of their passes.

“In the beginning of the game, it seemed like we were just playing with the ball,” said forward Amanda Cyr, who took advantage of a key opportunity midway through the second half.

After Houlton’s Abby Kinens sped down the left wing on a breakaway and scored from just inside the penalty area in the 50th minute to tie the game, Cyr came up with a loose ball just to the right of the penalty area and knew just what to do with it.

“All game I’d just been kicking with the inside of my foot, so I decided to kick it with my laces and it went in,” said Cyr.

Cyr’s goal was inches from sailing over the crossbar, but the ball clanged off the bottom of the bar and scooted across the goal line.

Then, it was the Shires’ turn to make some changes, and they had no choice but to go for broke in trying to get the equalizer.

“Once it was 2-1 we had to try to push everybody up,” said Houlton coach Tim Tweedie.

It worked for a while, as the Shires had a couple of chances to tie the game, but Caribou junior goalie Brittany Doak came up with some pivotal stops.

“She’s unbelievable, probably one of the best in Class B right now,” said stopper Meagan Bossie, who along with the rest of the Vikes’ defenders did a solid job of keeping the Shiretowners from penetrating the penalty area.

The Vikings’ quick one-touch passing led to an insurance goal with just under 11 minutes to play, with Abby Small tucking a pass from Emily Anderson inside the far post from 5 yards out.

Sounds like the offensive changes paid off big-time.

“We finally just started making passes that set each other up, and they started to go in,” Cyr said.

To Albert’s surprise, the Shiretowners didn’t work the wings as much as the Vikings did.

“Houlton played with a little more possession than I thought they would. They played hard, they played well, they had their chances,” said Albert.

After the tough loss to Fort Kent, the Vikes were desperate for a win.

“We were expecting to win last week. That was really upsetting, so we didn’t want to come here and lose again on our home field,” said Bossie.

Doak finished with 10 saves in goal for the Vikings while Houlton’s Madison Lezotte came up with 12 saves. Caribou held a 3-0 edge in corner kicks.

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Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports freelancer Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins.