Gray-New Gloucester’s Jay Hawkes (21) leaps to head the ball over a crowd that includes teammate Wyatt Kenney (24) and Poland’s Daulton Bolduc, right, during a game in Poland on Saturday. Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

POLAND — It took well-placed or well-timed shots for Gray-New Gloucester’s shooters to get the ball past Poland goalie Davin Cloutier on Saturday, but the Patriots were able to find the back of the net enough for a 4-1 victory.

Wyatt Kenney put the Patriots’ (2-1) second shot of the game past Cloutier, though it took a perfect curl from more than 20 yards out to open the scoring less than six minutes in.

After that, goals were harder to come by. In the first half, it was partly the Patriots’ own doing. Scoring chances were either wasted because of offsides calls or off-target takes.

Two more came for the Patriots before halftime, though. First Drew LaCerda, who missed high or wide on two earlier shots, finished just inside the right post on a feed from Cam Roberge with 15 minutes left in the first.

“I don’t know, I don’t have a great (shot). Like I lean back too far and I boot them into the air,” LaCerda said. “But every once in a while I get a good one.”

Later, Josh Michaud — guilty of being offsides twice — scored on a loose ball in the box after Nick Pelletier’s initial shot ricocheted off a defender.

The Knights (1-3) were held without a shot on goal in the first half but changed that early in the second. George Romano and Noah Breton both put chances on Patriots goalie Bradan Craig in the first five minutes.

Poland’s Noah Breton, left, and Gray-New Gloucester’s Eben Knedler fight for the ball while Gray-New Gloucester’s Jake MacCallum (17) looks on during a game in Poland on Saturday. Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“My boys picked it up pretty well, I thought, once they went down,” Poland coach David Coyne said. “But we got to put the ball in the net to win the games.”

Cloutier also stonewalled an opposing offense. The senior keeper stopped the first 14 shots he saw in the second half.

“It was awesome. He is definitely a top-notch keeper,” Coyne said.

“The work rate we put in was good. I thought we moved the ball better in the second half than we did the first half,” Patriots coach Kyle Fletcher said. “Their keeper had a really good game. … It’s frustrating when you’re not scoring, but I thought we played well, we controlled the pace of play. So all good things.”

Poland ended Craig’s shutout 14 minutes into the second. Breton saved the ball from going out on the end line, then sent a cross from the right side into the box, where Ben Pittman was able to redirect it in.

“One thing about Poland boys is they never give up. No matter what the score is on there, they play through the whole game, right to the very end,” Coyne said. “Once we scored one I think they knew that we could do it.”

Gray-New Gloucester’s Keegan Brooks boots the ball with a high kick after winning possession against Poland’s Brayden Gurney during a game in Poland on Saturday. Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Cloutier’s perfect second half came to an end with just under five minutes to play. Kenney rang a shot off the post, and LaCerda won the rebound in the box and fired it back in before Cloutier had a chance to regroup.

“It was like we were battling for a little bit in the middle, but then we got that and it felt like we (had the game won),” LaCerda said.

Cloutier finished with 20 saves, while Craig made four.

The Patriots have now scored 10 goals combined in their past two games after being shut out in their opener, and that has alleviated some of first-year coach Fletcher’s concerns.

“Scoring goals has been big for us this year,” he said. “I mean, I thought that was going to be one of our weaknesses going into this season, but we’ve had some players step up and kind of put the team on their shoulders.

“I think last year we only scored 13 in the full season, so it’s been good so far. I hope it keeps up.”

Poland goalie Davin Cloutier eyes the ball before one of his 20 saves during a game against Gray-New Gloucester on Saturday in Poland. Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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