Strong second half lifts Cats over Maine

Striker Lee Stephane Kouadio provid?ed the spark needed by the men’s soccer team to defeat Maine on Saturday. It was senior day for the Catamounts, who have seven departing seniors, including Kouadio. “It’s a very emotional day,” Kouadio said. “We all have our families here.”The Catamounts and Black Bears remained deadlocked throughout the first half, which saw many close calls for Vermont. “We didn’t play so well in the first half,” Kouadio said. After the 25 minute mark, Vermont had a flurry of shots, including a header by Kyle Luetkehans which sailed upward and arced over the crossbar as the crowd groaned over the near-miss. While the two teams struggled for the upper hand, Kouadio came through on a breakaway goal with less than seven minutes left in the game, making it 1-0.The goal came after Drew Smalley fired a long ball over the line of Black Bear defenders and Freshman Lukas Petersen was able to give a nice touch to Kouadio who had only the goalie to beat. Kouadio had been in a scoring slump as of late. Until Saturday, he had only two goals through 15 games, compared to his freshman year in which he scored nine goals in 14 games. “It feels great,” Kouadio said. “It feels like I’m back again.” Head coach Jesse Cormier said that he felt Kouadio struggled in the first half but was able to come around in the second to deliver the deciding goal for Vermont. “He had some really bright moments in the second half,” Cormier said. “He really was a spark for us.”This win puts Vermont into strong position to hold on to a top six spot in the conference, which is the cutoff point to make the American East Championship tournament. “I think this does put us in position for the playoffs,” Cormier said. “Now it’s about where we fall, we’ve still got some guys in front of us, so we still have a lot of work to do.”The win pushes Vermont into third place in the conference behind Boston University, who Vermont tied on Oct. 22, and conference leader Albany.