WINDHAM – As the defending Class A state champions, the Windham Eagles know they’re going to get everyone’s best shot this fall. But that doesn’t mean they can’t dish out a little punishment of their own, too.
That’s exactly what they did Tuesday night as Spencer Hodge scored just 26 seconds into the game and Windham added two more first half goals to breeze by Biddeford 4-0 Tuesday night in its first home game of the season. The Eagles and dominated the ball across the full 80 minutes, outshooting the Eagles 20-1 and never having their goal seriously threatened.
While happy with the result, Windham coach Colin Minte noted his team probably should have had even more, considering the disparity in chances and possession
“It was a good performance, it wasn’t a bad one. It was so-so,” Minte said. “I thought we did a great job of possessing the ball and not giving anything up defensively, but I thought when we got into the final third we just weren’t as calm and collected as we needed to be.
“It was 4-0 but I think we had more opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net and we’ll continue to build on that, it’s an area we need to work on obviously.”
Though the Eagles may have had problems bulging the back of the net later on, they found the scoring touch just after the opening whistle when Hodge got the ball running down the left sideline and floated a cross into the box.
But instead of curling away from goal, it floated over Biddeford keeper Josh McCauley’s head and into the far side of the net to give Windham an early, and perhaps lucky, 1-0 advantage.
Picking up an assist on the goal was midfielder Tony Yekeh, a junior transfer from Portland who adds another layer to an already strong Windham midfield. Fast, strong on the ball and able to find the killer pass to forwards making runs, Yekeh was a terror for the Tigers to stop all night and said he is fitting in nicely with his new team.
“Tony’s a great player, he brings a nice presence in the midfield to go along with our other center midfielder, Tyler DeFosse. Those are two very technical, skilled, hardworking midfielders,” Minte said. “I think it will be a couple more games until he’s completely comfortable playing with all the players on the field and kind of understanding their strengths and weaknesses, but once we get to that point he’ll have a lot of opportunities going forward.”
Windham continued to pepper the Biddeford net throughout the first half, but some sloppy finishing and a dogged Tigers defense led by senior Kyle Lagasse kept the game at 1-0 until the 12-minute mark, when DeFosse got around the right of the defense and moved in on goal.
From the end line DeFosse slipped in a cross that got by Tigers keeper Josh McCauley and found an open Marc Reynolds to hit in from close range. Eight minutes later Erik Gumaer headed in a cross that found McCauley in no man’s land for Windham’s third.
Reynolds added another, his team-leading third of the year, on a scramble in front of goal 26 minutes into a more low-key second half to make it a 4-0 final.
For a team that last season was under the radar for most of the season last year, playing with a target on their backs is a new experience for this group of players, one so far they’ve taken in stride.
“I feel pretty good about it, we just have to step it because every single team we play are going to play us hard,” Yekeh said. “We just need to play our game, distribute the ball really well and keep scoring.”
For now, Minte said his squad had to focus on coming ready to play its A-game every time out. That, and finding the cutting edge in front of goal, are the two priorities as the season matures.
“Every game we’ve really got to match our opponents energy level because that’s going to be where they really separate themselves coming out with a high level of energy. That’s my biggest concern, that these other teams are going to come in and try to outwork us,” he said. “This is only our third game. It took us a little while last year to kick into gear, it was about the sixth or seventh game in where kids really started playing with confidence and playing hard for each other.
“I think it’s just a matter of time until things start clicking, you could see all the little things in two the first two thirds. It’s going to be one of those things where as the kids get more and more comfortable together we’re going to be more and more dynamic, especially in the final third.”
Windham midfielder Tony Yekeh looks for a way past Biddeford defender Alex Ruck Tuesday. The Eagles scored three first-half goals to beat the Tigers 4-0. (Staff photos by Cameron Dunbar)
Biddeford’s Josh McCauley leaps for a corner in the first half.
Biddeford’s Alex Ruck attempts to push Windham’s Tony Yekeh off the ball.
Windham midfielder Spencer Hodge and Biddeford defender Alex Ruck fight for the ball inside the Biddeford half Tuesday.
Windham’s Dalton Mauro looks up for a cross Tuesday against Biddeford.
Biddeford defender Callum Malloy slides in for a tackle on Windham forward Devin Strout Tuesday.