Mt. Ararat’s Travis Nadeau (10) carries the ball down the field as Edward Little’s Jake Jackson (22) and Mnawer Dubai (11) pursue. (Eric Maxim/The Times Record)
TOPSHAM — Going into Friday’s boys’ soccer game between Mt. Ararat and Edward Little, Eagles coach Jack Rioux understood what the Red Eddies were capable of offensively.
The Eddies scored eight goals on their way to a pair of victories to start the season, so the Eagles knew limiting the visitors’ chances was the main priority.
“That was plan,” Rioux said. “Possess the ball when we can and try not to give them any set pieces.”
The Eagles executed the game plan, keeping EL off the scoreboard while receiving a pair of first-half goals from Mason Brigham for a 2-0 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference win.
The Eagles improve to 2-1 on the young season. EL suffers its first defeat of the season in three games.
After defeating Brunswick 5-1 on Tuesday, the Red Eddies came into Friday’s game looking to make it three straight.
“We know their players, and we had a game plan to contain Travis (Nadeau) and Max (Varela),” EL coach Tim Mains said. “Yeah, we beat Brunswick the other night 5-1, but they know they need to work. I do think we did a nice job; I don’t think we played poorly, just not well enough to win.”
Mt. Ararat attacked early, and three minutes into the game, the Eagles nearly pushed one across. Following the first corner kick of the game, Nadeau passed through traffic to Ethan Rac, but Rac’s touch on the ball popped over the net.
With less than 20 minutes remaining in the half, Mt. Ararat forward Elias Theberge tapped the ball inside to Rac, who got a shot off on EL goalie Mack Sampson. The ball bounced loose and Brigham drove in hard, with both himself and the ball hitting the back of the net for the score.
“Our plan is to knock it around and try to get it in line and get it in the box and get shots off,” Rioux said. “Every time we do that, we need someone there to pick up the loose balls, and today, Mason (Brigham) was there.”
“We work on that, getting the ball and finishing,” Brigham said. “We knew that was coming.”
With a minute remaining in the half, Brigham once again found himself in position, picking up a Nadeau blast that Sampson did not secure, tapping it across the line for the game’s second score.
“It’s a whole team thing,” Brigham said of getting his second loose ball for the score. “It was important not to just get the first goal, but the second one, as well. After you get that first goal, you get that momentum and want to keep it going.”
Despite the goals, Sampson shined in the net for the Red Eddies, finishing with six first-half saves.
“I was pleased with him, he played a great game,” Mains said. “He provides leadership back there for us.”
The Eagles took the 2-0 lead into the break, outshooting the Red Eddies 8-3 in the first forty minutes.
With a two-goal lead, Mt. Ararat was able to take advantage of the wide field by spreading the ball around in the second-half, continuing to minimize EL’s chances. Rioux credited his defense in keeping the Eddies to only pair of shots on net in the second frame.
“We lost a couple of kids from our back line from last year, so it’s new to some of these guys, and they’re stepping up real well,” Rioux said. “They’re communicating and we just want James (Singleton) to make the simple saves and they do that.”
Mt. Ararat shut down the Red Eddies, allowing just five shots on net, and possessing the ball for the majority of the game.
Mains was frustrated with the outcome and said his team didn’t work has hard as it should.
“First off, give the kudos to Mt. Ararat, they out-worked us. Clear as day, it’s what it was,” Mains said. “They beat us to 50-50 balls, they ran through the ball where we just stuck a foot out to win it. They won everything in the air. They outplayed us, and that’s the bottom line, they were just better than us today.
“We’re not so good that we can come out here and not show up and expect to win. If that’s how we’re going to play, that’s the result we’re going to get.”
Despite the loss, Mains likes the way the Eddies battled until the end and knows they have the potential to bounce back.
“We’re great when we play well. We may not have anyone specifically special, we will need to outwork teams,” Mains said.
The Red Eddies will get back to work on Monday, hosting Lewiston at 3:30 p.m.
Edward Little’s Wol Maiwen (4) battles with Mt. Ararat’s Ethan Rac (9) for the ball as Edward Little’s Joshua Lavigne (18) and Oliver Hall (17) look on. (Eric Maxim/The Times Record)