Fort Kent Warriors ground GSA Eagles on way to Class C North title
FORT KENT, Maine — The Fort Kent Warriors advanced to the Boys Class C State Championship game with their 4-0 win Thursday over the Eagles of George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill.
The two teams came into Thursday’s Class C North title game each having won its previous game 1-0 and determined to come away with a more decisive victory this time. The cold rain and muddy field seemed to impact the players very little, as both squads played well under less than ideal conditions at the University of Maine at Fort Kent’s Alumni Memorial Field.
It was the Warriors, though, who took control early, with constant pressure on the Eagle defense. With, few exceptions, Fort Kent kept play at the their opponent’s end of the pitch much of the match.
Just four minutes into the game, Fort Kent freshman Noah Martin took the ball from midfield and scored an unassisted goal, thanks in part to a George Stevens defender who inadvertently deflected Martin’s shot past keeper Alec Witham.
Ten minutes later, Camden Jandreau tallied Fort Kent’s second goal, also unassisted.
Although the Eagles mounted some chances of their own, including some close calls from corner kicks, they could not stifle the Warriors’ tenacity and speed, and went into the half down 2-0.
Less than 15 minutes into the second half, Austin Plourde knocked in a third Warrior goal off an assist from Martin.
The Eagles, hoping to strike fast with time running out, applied a lot of pressure on the Fort Kent defense and forced Warrior keeper Reece Pelletier to make some quality stops late in the game.
Martin, whose fancy footwork, hustle and powerful left foot kept the Eagles on guard, had his second assist of the game when he lofted a perfect pass to teammate Niko Naranja, who headed in Fort Kent’s fourth goal with 13 minutes left.
Whitham, who made some great saves on the day, faced 20 shots and had 12 saves for the Eagles. Pelletier made eight saves on 11 shots, on his way to a second consecutive playoff shutout.
Warrior head coach Oniqueky Samuels said his players came out in the first half and “executed perfectly,” but he added that victories are not made on the day of the game.
“It comes from preparation,” he said after Thursday’s title victory. “It’s all about what we put in in the summer and preseason. It’s time and commitment.”
“Our guys have a lot of grit,” said Eagle head coach Mark Ensworth. “They (Fort Kent) have a fast team. It comes down to execution, and it wasn’t our day.”
George Stevens finishes with a record of 11-2-4 following the loss on Thursday.
Samuels, his coaches, players and parents celebrated on the field after the game. The Eagle captains were presented the runner’s up plaque, followed by the presentation of the North title plaque to the Warrior squad.
“It’s all about teamwork,” Naranja said after the game. “My goal wasn’t mine. It was a team effort. It just clicked for us this year.”
In a show of St. John Valley solidarity, the Madawaska High School band was at the game Thursday, and played the national anthem. Madawaska school officials also allowed members of its boys’ and girls’ soccer teams to attend.
The Warriors will play in the state championship match at 10 a.m. on Saturday, at Hampden Academy against the Class C South’s top ranked Maranacook Community High School of Readfield.
It will be the first time since 2010 that the Fort Kent boys’ soccer team plays for a state title. That year, the Warriors defeated Yarmouth, 2-1, for the title.