OLD TOWN, Maine — Russ Mortland is seen by his coach in great part as a facilitator for the Presque Isle boys soccer team.
But given opportunities to be a finisher during the second half of a Class B matchup against Old Town on Wednesday afternoon, the junior midfielder delivered three goals to lead the unbeaten Wildcats to a 4-0 victory at Lacadie Field.
“Russ needs to keep delivering the ball because he’s drawing an awful lot of attention, and he knows that,” said Presque Isle coach Scott Young. “But what I really like about him is he’s very mature about it and can handle all that attention, and he’s doing the right things. He distributes the ball very well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has as many assists as he has goals by the end of the season.”
Old Town (3-2) stayed within 1-0 at halftime through considerable hustle on the defensive end.
But as Presque Isle, which plays home games on artificial turf, grew more accustomed to the undulations of this grass surface its short passing game began to produce even more scoring opportunities.
“We had really good touches today,” said Presque Isle senior Warren Zubrick. “The passes were pretty good, and you’ve just got to get used to the field you’re playing on. Once you get used to it you just go with it and it gets easier.”
Eric Morris scored on an assist from Zubrick to give the 4-0-1 Wildcats a 1-0 lead with 5:07 left in the first half.
Nathan Postell passed ahead to Zubrick deep on the right wing, and Zubrick then centered the ball across the goal crease where Morris beat a defender to it and scored just inside the left goalpost.
“I wanted to take a shot,” said Zubrick, “but I had a bad angle so I just decided to cut it back across the 18. I knew my teammates would be running in so I fig-ured it would be good chance for them to score it.”
It took Mortland just 64 seconds of the second half to make it 2-0 as he headed home a corner kick from Josh Allen.
Mortland gained control of a loose ball about 25 yards out 10 minutes later and rifled a low shot just inside the left post past Old Town goalie Lee Larry.
“I was looking for a through-ball, because usually our strikers are running through,” Mortland said. “But I thought they were offside so I faked the pass, pushed it out and aimed for a corner.”
Mortland scored again with 7:05 left from 18 yards out after some solid set-up work from Wilder York and Lucas Mathers. Mathers floated a pass ahead to York, and when York met defensive resistance the ball bounced back to Mortland.
“Wilder made a great run, which drew my defender and his defender, and the ball was just sitting there so I took advantage of his good play,” said Mortland.
Dillon Kingsbury saved all three shots on goal he faced to preserve Presque Isle’s fourth shutout victory. Larry stopped 11 of 15 Presque Isle shots on goal.
“The last three games we rode an offensive surge and were fortunate in putting some balls in the back of the net,” said Old Town coach Mark Graffam, whose team had scored 20 goals in its last three matches. “Today we just came up against a speedier and more skilled team, and we’ve got to work on some things to prepare ourselves for the next game.”
JV: Presque Isle 5-0