ORONO, Maine — With a slippery field causing the ball to skip, fullbacks and goalkeepers in Wednesday’s America East women’s soccer game between the University of Maine and Albany were under a lot of pressure.
The potential was there for a high-scoring affair.
But senior striker Christine LaBelle’s goal just 1:41 into the game represented all the scoring as Maine won 1-0.
It was her team-high fourth goal of the season.
Maine improved to 4-2-4 overall, 1-1 in America East, while Albany, which started six freshmen, fell to 2-11 and 0-2.
Maine senior goalie Jasmine Phillips made 12 saves on 24 shots in registering her fifth shutout of the season and school-record 32nd of her career. Her counterpart, graduate student Amber Maisonet, finished with eight saves on 14 shots.
Both turned in outstanding performances.
“The elements played a factor in the game and what I was pleased about was that our team handled the elements exceptionally well,” said Maine coach Scott Atherley. “I was really impressed with all of our backs [Anjelica Hodgson, Hailey Blackburn and Cristina Di Ielsi] and Jasmine. She made some big-time saves.”
“We let up an early goal and it came back to bite us in the butt,” said Great Danes coach Mary-Frances Monroe.
LaBelle’s goal resulted from her own individual effort as she took a pass from Alli Krous on the left flank. She was being confronted by a Great Dane defender.
“I was making a secondary run and I was looking for V [Veronique Fleury] the whole time,” said LaBelle. “Their defender stepped out so I kept going to the end line and, eventually, I was at the [near] post. So I just kicked it at [Maisonet], and it happened to bounce off her and went in. I was just trying to get something out of it, a rebound or a goal. ”
“It bounced off my stomach and right hand,” said Maisonet. “I probably could have done a little better on that one but I did the best I could.”
Despite being outshot 24-14, the Bears had the better opportunities.
LaBelle nearly expanded the lead a few minutes later with a partial break-in but midfielder Kendra Harrell-Virgil hustled across to limit her shooting angle and Maisonet made a routine save.
Later in the half, a highlight-reel passing sequence saw La-Belle slip the ball to Fleury, whose cross from the right flank found an umarked Kim Stephenson at the far post. But Stephenson’s header across the grain went wide.
Albany pressed for the equalizer in the second half and carried the play for 20 minutes, but the aggressive Bears settled down and won most of the 50-50 balls the rest of the way.
Jaclyn Rosada had the best chance for Albany with a well-struck 20-yarder from the top of the penalty area off a Diana Barrera pass with 14 minutes left.
But Phillips dove to her right and snared it with both hands.
“I was trying to go to the far post but [Phillips] made a very good save,” said Rosada.
“I wasn’t blocked out or anything. It was a pretty straight-forward shot,” said Phillips.
The Bears continue in conference action Sunday when they travel to Vestal, N.Y., for a noon contest against Binghamton. They are then home for a Thursday game at 3 p.m. against league foe Hartford.