Wednesday, May 22, 2013
BY MATT DIFILIPPO
Last week, the University of Maine at Farmington women's soccer team faced one of those moments. The Beavers out-shot North Atlantic Conference foe Husson by a 17-4 margin, but still came away with a 1-0 loss.
As UMF coach Molly Wilkie put it, the team had two ways to go. The Beavers could let that loss define their season or come back stronger. UMF bounced back with a 4-1 victory over Johnson State in the regular-season finale three days later and will now host New England College in a quarterfinal on Sunday. The default conference time for the game is 1 p.m.
"That was a tough one for us," Wilkie said of the Husson game. "The team has done a great job responding to that loss by going hard and giving maximum effort in practices and games."
The seven-day layoff between games is UMF's longest of the season. Wilkie says she'll be introducing new things in practice to keep things fresh and the players on their toes.
"Yesterday and today is a great chance for us to have some intense practices, which we weren't able to during the season because there's so many games," Wilkie said Tuesday.
UMF is 10-6-1 overall and 6-2-1 in the NAC. The top three scorers for the Beavers are junior Kayla Tuttle of Waterville (13 goals, 4 assists, 30 points), senior Alida Peake (10-0-20), and sophomore Ava Amador of Farmington (7-5-19).
UMF faced New England College once this season, winning 5-0 on Sept. 30. Peake scored three goals and the Beavers had a 23-5 advantage in shots that day. On the other hand, NEC also lost only 2-1 to a top-ranked Castleton team that defeated UMF, 3-0.
"NEC is a much better team than what that score reflects (against us), and we know that," Wilkie said. "We need to be on top of our game. We need to be focused and we need to possess the ball."
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The New England Small College Athletic Conference women's cross country field is loaded this year, but if Colby could pick a time to compete, this would be it.
As they prepare for Saturday's NESCAC championships at Bowdoin, the Mules are coming off their best meet of the season -- a strong third-place finish at the Maine state meet Oct. 13.
"That state meet for us was a real breakthrough," Colby coach Deb Aitken said. "We're finally running the way I envisioned us running. I think that was an indication of what we are capable of doing. It was a confidence boost."
Aitken said her team has been battling cold viruses and low iron. She anticipates the Mules will be in contention with Bowdoin and Wesleyan for the sixth through eighth spots. In the latest national poll, Williams is ranked third, Middlebury is fifth and Tufts, Amherst and Bates are all in the top 30.
"It's a terribly competitive year," Aitken said. "Our region is so incredibly packed with talent. The course at Bowdoin is so fast and flat that it really favors teams with a lot of strong middle distance runners."
Senior Berol Dewdney is Colby's top runner and placed third overall at the state meet. Eva Lauer is running second, with Kate Connolly third. What has Aitken especially optimistic is that Brittany Colford and Alanna McDonough, Colby's 4-5 runners, were much closer to Connolly at the state meet than in the past. McDonough was just 29 seconds behind Connolly at the state meet, after a 51-second gap between the runners on Sept. 8.
"We are definitely in the best position we've been in the entire season," Aitken said. "I don't think too many people expect us to do much and that's a nice position to be in."
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The University of Maine women's basketblal team was picked to finish seventh in the America East preseason poll Tuesday afternoon. The Black Bears received 17 total votes.
Defending conference champion Albany was picked as the preseason favorite with 61 votes, including five first-place tallies. Last season's regular-season champion Boston University was selected second with 56 votes and a pair of first-place votes. Hartford also received two first-place votes and a total of 54 points to finish third. New Hamphire and Vermont each received 37 votes in a tie for fourth while the University of Maryland-Baltimore County was picked sixth with 34 votes. Maine was followed by Binghamton (16) and Stony Brook (12) to round out the nine-team field.
The Black Bears return five players from last season's team, which went 8-23 overall and 4-12 in league play. Maine opens its season at 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, when it travels to the North Carolina State Tournament, facing Auburn on Day 1.
Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243