Madawaska forward Taylor Pelletier and Houlton's fullback Natalie DeLucca scrap for the ball during the Owls' 1-0 victory Friday night. Credit: Hannah Catlin / St. John Valley Times

MADAWASKA, Maine — Madawaska’s varsity girls soccer team scraped out a 1-0 shock victory during a home game against Houlton Friday night.

In what was undoubtedly the performance of the game, Owls goalie Mallory Corriveau made at least a dozen remarkable saves and staved off what could have been a blowout Houlton victory. During the course of the game, the Shiretowners outshot the Owls by about three to one.

From the first whistle, Houlton established clear dominance, moving the ball deftly around Madawaska’s defenses and keeping the game in the Owls’ territory. Despite countless attempts, however, the Shires couldn’t put a ball behind Corriveau, who charged and dove to stop each one.

But midway through the second half, the Madawaska squad began to punch through, making several solid charges at Houlton’s goal. One run by the Owls’ Van Buren transplant Renee Lapointe ended in a huge collision with Houlton’s goalkeeper, Emma McCarthy, who left the field to watch the rest of the game from the bench.

With eight minutes left in the game, the Shires had slowed significantly from their initial pace. The Owls’ Chantal Ackley dribbled between two Houlton halfbacks to score the game’s only goal. Her teammate Taylor Pelletier assisted with a well-placed pass into the top of Houlton’s penalty box.

Substitute Houlton goalie Mia Henderson put up a good fight — blocking a well-shot Taylor Pelletier penalty kick late in the game — but her teammates never had an answering goal.

As the clock ran out, the Shires got off one last shot, which Corriveau halted at the final buzzer. Corriveau ran out to celebrate with her team, game ball in hand.

The Madawaska squad has scrapped its way to a 5-1 record on the year so far, no thanks to their schedule which has matched the Class D squad up against several Class C teams — including Houlton (now 1-1) and Fort Kent (2-0).

Madawaska head coach Tom Gerard, who has spent almost two decades coaching Madawaska sports, said that Corriveau was the show-stopper in net. It was undoubtedly the junior’s best ever in-game performance, he said.

Having a game like that feels great, Corriveau said afterward, though she played down her own role in the win.

“I think we played very well,” she said. “I definitely wouldn’t be able to do it without my team.”

Gerard is hoping Corriveau and the rest of the girls are energized by the win as they match up next week against Fort Fairfield — which is the Owls’ only loss on the year — and undefeated Fort Kent.

While Fort Fairfield’s victory came against a Madawaska squad depleted by COVID-19 cases, Gerard said it’s a formidable team nonetheless. Meanwhile, Fort Kent has been nearly untouchable to start the season — its first game was a 10-1 blowout versus Class C Caribou.

It will take more of Friday night’s magic to keep underdog Madawaska on its hot streak.

“[Houlton was] the better team,” Gerard said. “Sometimes in this game you dominate and lose. … To defeat a team of that caliber is the best boost for the girls.”

Hannah Catlin is a reporter at the St. John Valley Times/Fiddlehead Focus in Madawaska, Maine.