By: Eli Canfield, Staff Writer
The Huskies’ took a 2-1 lead into the halftime break, but were outscored in
a sloppy second half and fell to Keene State 3-2 in their final game of the season Nov. 2 at Hannaford Field in Gorham.
The Owls dominated in the first 25 minutes of the match, with goalie Dalton Cassidy (Senior, Economics) making multiple saves to keep the Huskies in it, but just over two and a half minutes in, Keene State striker Connor Downey stole a pass in the USM zone, dribbled past a defender, and struck a shot far post past Cassidy’s outstretched arms. About 10 minutes later, Joseph Kalilwa (Junior, Health Sciences) was fouled just outside the box, setting up a free kick for the Huskies. James Hutchinson (Junior, Exercise Science) took the kick, placing a perfect ball for Sam Anderson (Senior, Linguistics) whose header went just wide. The Huskies’ finally broke through in the 34th minute when Yassin Mahmoud (Senior, Electrical Engineering) set up Noah Perry (Freshman, Athletic Training), who finessed a shot into the back of the net off the arm of Keene goalie Anthony Pasciutof.
With just under three minutes remaining in the half, Kalilwa was fouled in the box to set up a Husky penalty kick. Kalilwa converted, smashing a shot off the right post and in, just past Pasciuto, who guessed the right direction. The Huskies held for the final couple of minutes of the half, and took a 2-1 lead into the break.
The second half was a different story, with undisciplined play from both sides resulting in a total of four yellow cards. Keene tied the game in the 52nd minute, after a tackle in the box set up a penalty kick for midfielder Emmanuel Smith, who struck a shot into the bottom right corner past Cassidy. The Owls clearly wanted to be more physical in the second half and it showed, resulting in multiple fouls giving away possession. A scramble in front of the net at about 60 minutes resulted in Cassidy moving out of position, but luckily, Peter Mayhorn (Junior, Exercise Science) was there to deflect a shot off his leg, keeping the tie intact. A couple of minutes later, Cassidy saved a shot off the foot Keene State defender Dale Dubinsky, but Downey volleyed the rebound into the top part of the goal for a 3-2 Owls lead.
USM kept the pressure on. Hutchinson struck a shot towards the far side of the goal but was stopped by Pasciuto. Around the 71st minute, the Huskies had their best chance of the half. After some crisp passing to put Keene defenders out of position, Kalilwa took the ball from just outside the box and struck a shot no more than 6 inches over the crossbar. In the final 10 minutes, Keene dropped back into defensive mode and the Huskies dominated possession, with the ball mainly in the Keene zone. After multiple fouls and free kick opportunities for the Huskies, Keene cleared the ball and played keep away for the final five minutes of the match. Kalilwa had another chance to score with about two and a half minutes remaining, but his shot once again was too high and went over the crossbar. With a minute remaining, the Huskies had a corner kick to try and tie the game, but after a series of deflections, the ball ended up in Pasciuto’s arms, ultimately sealing the win for the Owls. Cassidy ended up with a strong four save performance in his final game, with Pasciuto stopping seven shots.
Before the game, the Husky seniors were honored for Senior Day.
The Huskies finished the season 0-15-3 and with Little East record of 0-7-1. The team will look to build from this next season, with only five seniors on this year’s squad. Perry finished as the teams’ top goal scorer with four goals in his freshman season. Kalilwa finished second on the team with three in his junior season, and will look to improve upon this for his senior season next year.