One of the strengths of Hall-Dale boys soccer coach Andy Haskell is his calm demeanor during games. He rarely raises his voice to his players and seldom if ever questions an official’s call.

That’s because Haskell is all about preparation. Since taking over the Bulldogs last season his teams have gone 30-3-1. This season was the best ever for the Bulldogs, who finished at 16-1-1 and won the Western Maine Class C championship.

Haskell credits a more thorough knowledge of Mountain Valley Conference opponents and a strong returning group of players for the team’s success, but the Bulldogs likely would not have done it without him.

“He pushed us,” senior midfielder Colin Lush said. “He made us go into every drill harder than the last.”

Haskell also adjusted, particularly in the Waynflete game, when the Bulldogs played defense and beat the Flyers in penalty kicks. For his efforts, he’s been selected Kennebec Journal Boys soccer Coach of the Year. Maranacook coach Don Beckwith was also considered.

By the time the Bulldogs played Waynflete in the Western Maine final, Haskell knew this opponent well. Not only had he played the Flyers the previous year, losing in penalty kicks in the semifinals, but he had scouted them twice which helped him formulate an effective game plan.

“We went to a three-man back system to match up with their strikers,” he said. “We flooded the midfield with matchups. I knew we were going to have to compress the midfield. I thought the kids did a great job.”

Although Hall-Dale dominated most of its opponents during the regular season, Haskell realized his team was at a disadvantage against the Flyers.

“Technically we can’t match up with their individual ability so we had to make up for it with tactics, strategy and fitness,” Haskell said.

Fitness has been Haskell’s calling card since arriving at Hall-Dale. He works for the wellness department at MaineGeneral Medical Center and also runs a strength and conditioning business for cyclists along with college and high school athletes.

“We ran all the time,” Lush said. “We were going into games a little more fit than other teams.”

Along those lines, Haskell added two conditioning days during the summer to complement the teams two game days.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

ghawkins@centralmaine.com