Erskine Academy girls soccer coach Ryan Nored believed his strong group of athletes this season would eventually come together and contend for a tournament berth. He turned out to be right.
By the season’s end, Nored’s Eagles were the team no one wanted to face. Their preliminary round win against Cony earned them the right to face unbeaten, top-seeded Brunswick, a team that Nored doesn’t recall his girls ever scoring a goal against.
They did that and more in the Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinals as they knocked off the Dragons in penalty kicks.
“To this day I get goose bumps talking about it,” Nored said.
For his efforts, Nored has been selected Kennebec Journal Girls Soccer Coach of the Year. Richmond’s Troy Kendrick, Monmouth’s Gary Trafton and Maranacook’s Mike Morin were also considered.
Erskine got off to a slow start, losing two of its first three games, including a 5-0 loss to Brunswick. But the Eagles turned things around with a tie against Mt. Blue and took off from there, losing just two games over final nine to finish 8-4-2 in the regular season. Wins against Cony and Brunswick, both in penalty kicks during the playoffs, gave the Eagles 10 victories this season. Nored’s team found itself down 2-0 at halftime against Brunswick, but he turned the deficit into a positive teaching point at halftime.
“I told them we had been there before,” Nored said. “I told them Brunswick isn’t a team that’s ready for us to score. If we score I don’t know how they’re going to react.”
The Eagles scored off the second-half kickoff and tied it later on a goal from Bridget Humphrey. Again, Nored intervened.
“We were all excited we made it to overtime,” he said. “I reminded them that’s not why were there. We had just gone through a prelim that went to penalty kicks.”
Having just completed his sixth season as head coach, Nored said he’s developed more patience and communicates better with his players than when he started. He incorporates a lot of competitive drills in his practices and places a premium on passing and possessing the ball.
“I like that and the girls have bought into it,” he said.
He also gives his players a lot of individual responsibility.
“He gave a lot of leadership roles to people on the team which I think helped,” Erskine senior Bridget Humphrey said. “He keeps it together. He kept relaxed and just kind of let us play soccer and let us have fun and win at the same time.”
Nored graduated from Erskine where he ran cross country, played basketball and baseball. Friend John Whittier talked him into coaching soccer and Nored learned under him as well as former coach John Hilton. He also coaches boys tennis at Erskine where he teaches English and theater.
“Erskine is the greatest school to teach at,” Nored said. “The kids and the parents are phenomenal.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638