The first goal of a season can often be the hardest one to score, especially after being shut out in the opener.

This was the case for the Morse High School boys soccer team, which lost its Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference opener to Medomak Valley on Friday (3-0), then fell behind Lincoln Academy in its KVAC home opener on Tuesday at McMann Field.

So when Connor Bennoch rocketed a low shot into the left side of the cage just 4:56 into the second half, that goal gave the Shipbuilders a shot of energy.

Against a talented Eagles squad, Morse finished in a 2- 2 deadlock, giving the Shipbuilders an 0-1-1 mark, while Lincoln Academy stands at 1-0-1 after defeating Oceanside, 6-0 in its opener last week.

Bennoch agreed that his goal from 25-yards out past Eagles netminder Sam Laemmle (three saves) provided his team with a lift.

“It was the spark that we needed today. At halftime we talked about getting and keeping the momentum. We were playing well, we just needed to score,” Bennoch said.

“Connor’s goal was a big icebreaker for us,” said Morse coach Chuck Reece, whose Shipbuilders host Erskine Academy on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Slow start

After the teams felt each other out for 15 minutes, Lincoln Academy began to take over. Midfielder Lauren Pusey-Nazzaro entered the game and his passing and possession game kept the Morse defense on its heels. Another dangerous player was Eagles wing Will Shaffer, who nearly scored early in the contest when he beat Shipbuilder netminder Miles Bobbe to the ball and turned toward an empty Morse cage. However, Shaffer’s shot glanced off the outside of the near post to keep the game scoreless.

Morse wasn’t as fortunate the next time Shaffer touched the ball, as the junior rifled a shot past the dive of Bobbe for a 1-0 Eagles lead with 7:32 left in the opening frame.

“We have had trouble at the start and we need to get out of that funk,” said Reece, whose Shipbuilders were outshot 13-2 in the first 40 minutes. “At halftime I talked about how we can’t sit back, and that we need to step forward and win battles from the wings. They started to trust each other. We are going to work a lot on our offensive stuff, finishing, and trying to get off to better starts.”

Bennoch gained control of the ball, made a move on a Lincoln defender and sent a low shot that had Laemmle diving in vain for a 1-1 tie.

The Eagles pushed back, with Pusey-Nazzaro, Nolen Michael, Shaffer and Nate Simmons launching shot after shot toward Bobbe, who continued to make saves. After six stops in the opening half, Bobbe turned away 11 consecutive tries by Lincoln Academy to keep the game even.

Morse’s first push into Eagles territory after 12 minutes produced the second Shipbuilder goal. A Lincoln defender seemed to have things well in hand, with Morse freshman Angelo Atienza trying to catch up. Suddenly, Atienza had the ball and struck a shot from a near impossible angle for a 2-1 Shipbuilder lead with 13:51 remaining in regulation.

“That is what Angelo does,” said Reece. “He is a freshman, but he makes things happen. He works his butt off.”

The Eagles refused to go away, tying the game when Simmons headed a pass from Shaffer into the Morse cage with 6:07 left.

In overtime, neither goaltender was forced to make a save as storm clouds began rolling in above McMann Field, leaving the teams in a 2-2 tie.

For Morse, defenders Christian Brockhouse, Dominic Green, Kehl Chadwick and Jack Harrington had a solid game, along with midfielder Ethan Pascuzzo.

Lincoln Academy finished with a 29-8 shot advantage and an 8-1 edge in corner kicks. Bobbe turned away 17 shots in the tie.

Lincoln Academy 2, Morse 2

At McMann Field in Bath

Lincoln 1 1 0 2
Morse 0 2 0 2

Goals — (LA) Will Shaffer, Nate Simmons; (Mo) Connor Bennoch, Angelo Atienza. Assist — (LA) Will Shaffer. Shots — Lincoln 29, Morse 8. Saves — (LA) Sam Laemmle 3; (Mo) Miles Bobbe 17. Records — Lincoln 1-0-1, Morse 0- 1-1. Up next for the Shipbuilders — Thursday at home vs. Erskine Academy, 6 p.m.

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