DIXFIELD — Derek Ducharme’s first career shutout as Dirigo’s goalie came at a good time for the Cougars, who earned their first win of the season Thursday, 2-0, against Buckfield.

The victory avenged a 4-1 loss to the Bucks earlier in the season, as well as giving up a 2-0 lead against rival Mountain Valley in a tie the last time out for the Cougars (1-2-1).

“I think we did well. I feel like it’s been a long time coming, especially this season,” Ducharme, a senior said. “But my defense helped me out when I needed it, and I made some plays, and offense did their job. So all-around good day.”

The offense gave Ducharme and the Dirigo defense a cushion in the first half with two goals in a four-minute span. Drew Collins opened the scoring with a finish in the box after Dalton Hodgkins carried it in before getting stopped. Hodgkins then doubled the lead just before the first-half sanitization break with a 30-yard looping shot over Bucks (1-6-1) goalie Gavin Charest, with Trent Hutchinson providing the assist.

“He’s really performed for us this year,” Ducharme said of Hodgkins, a freshman. “He reminds me of Trent Hutchinson last year.”

“He’s going to be in the MVC for the next three years after this, so that’s nice too,” Dirigo coach Bob Karcher said.

Buckfield coach Kyle Rines lamented the first 20 minutes of the game, which was capped off by Hodgkins’ goal.

“I thought the second-half focus by our team was much better than that first 10 and 15 and 20 minutes of the game where Dirigo scored on us,” he said. “If only we could have done that for the full 80 I thought it would have been more competitive.”

The final 20 minutes of the first meeting was where Buckfield dominated, but Dirigo didn’t let that happen the second time around.

“Tonight I felt like we were better-conditioned. Getting that two-goal lead was huge,” Karcher said. “I’m not going to lie to you, I wanted that third goal just to psychologically get them out of the game, but we couldn’t get it.”

The Cougars gave up a two-goal lead in the final 10 minutes against Mountain Valley, and Karcher said that ending was fresh in his players’ minds. Ducharme admitted to being a little stressed at the end of the game, and implored his teammates to kill some clock by knocking the ball out of bounds. But that’s when he also shined brightest.

“I thought every ball that Rick Kraske put in the box, whether it was a throw or a corner kick, I thought Ducharme found a way to get his hands on it,” Rines said. “We had some really good chances. I thought (Kaleb) Harvey had a good chance in the first half, (Zach) Shields had a good chance in the first half to score, but that’s been our thing this whole COVID season is just scoring has not been there.”

Rines said Ducharme played like a hockey goalie metaphorically standing on his head. His four saves — three in the second half — don’t tell the whole story of how active Ducharme was in the game.

“He’s a senior and he’s a three-year goalie, it’s huge. I mean, having a guy — he made one beautiful save that was just where he laid out for it (against Shields). I like having him back there,” Karcher said. “I got guys on this team that you know are going to come through for you and he’s definitely one of them. But he’s put in the time, and I think he’s one of the better goalies, I feel, in the league.”

Charest made 10 saves for the Bucks in their season finale, including seven in the second half. Rines is hoping the towering sophomore will be one of the more talented, well-known goalies in the Mountain Valley Conference by the time he’s a senior.

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