The top two teams in Class B North clashed in Orono Wednesday afternoon, culminating in an entertaining 1-1 tie after extra time.
Caribou’s fast, physical style of play was a great matchup against Bapst’s slower, possession-based approach, and the two sides traded chances all game long.
Initially, the Vikings largely controlled the pace of play, with junior striker Braydon Brescia getting Caribou on the board ten minutes into the game.
Brescia received the ball in the right side of the box and quickly booted it near post, making it 1-0 Caribou and silencing the Bapst-heavy crowd.
“I had a tough angle and was able to put it past the goalie, so I’m thankful for that,” Brescia said. “We’re 5-0, so we had a lot of confidence coming into the game.”
Later in the half, Caribou nearly made it 2-0 after senior Dylan Bouchard received a cross 12 yards in front of goal, but fortunately for Bapst, lofted it over the crossbar.
On the other end, Bapst began to get comfortable halfway through the first frame, stringing together some corner kicks and solid upfield passes, forcing Caribou senior goalkeeper Logan White to get active in the box.
As the game progressed into the second half, Bapst continued to send dangerous through balls upfield, but junior winger Izak Robichaud and company kept misplacing their shots and losing their dribbles at the last second.
Meanwhile, the clock continued to tick, and after a couple solid counterattacks from the Vikings, things were looking dire for the Crusaders.
But with seven minutes remaining in regulation, it was ‘the third time’s the charm’ for Robichaud.
Running with a pass from junior midfielder Oscar Martinez, Robichaud laced a beautiful pass across goal right before the Caribou defender caught up to him, and senior Ellis Columber swooped in from the left wing to bury the ball with one touch.
The crowd, and the Bapst bench, erupted.
“I saw Ellis coming in on that run, and played that [ball] to him,” Robichaud said. “I hoped he was gonna get there, [but] of course he’s gonna get there.”
In the final minutes of regulation and then in extra time, a nail biting deadlock ensued, but both keepers ultimately held strong and forced a draw.
“We knew it would be a challenge coming in,” Columber said. “It was a hard game. We missed some opportunities early, so it was really good to capitalize at the end right there.”
With the draw, Bapst now stands at 7-1-1, and Caribou at 5-0-1. It was the closest Caribou had come to a loss all season.
“John Bapst has a solid team, they always have,” Caribou head coach Evan Richards said. “We were looking forward to this game, and they played tough, good soccer. We matched that, and it was an excellent game all the way around.”
“We wanted the win just as bad as they did,” Brescia said. “We play physically with each other in practice, and then we bring it onto the field.”
The Vikings and Crusaders are scheduled to meet again rather promptly, on Oct. 9 in Caribou.