Alan Gordon, the men’s soccer coach at the University of Maine-Presque Isle, needed a new goalkeeper. It was around that time that someone convinced Erskine graduate Caleb Bragg-Grady to come out for the soccer team.

Josh MacKinnon, who was Association of Division III Independents Defensive Player of the Year last fall, had been UMPI’s goalie. Bragg-Grady, meanwhile, did not play soccer as either a freshman or a sophomore at UMPI.

“His first two years, he focused on classes,” Gordon said. “I didn’t even know too much about him. Last spring, Caleb came out for a preseason practice. I didn’t even expect him to show up.”

Gordon learned that some of the current Owls players had convinced Bragg-Grady to try out.

Bragg-Grady was already much stronger than a couple years earlier, after working out regularly.

In the fall, Gordon had his player take their annual fitness tests. He said Bragg-Grady recorded the highest vertical leap on the team: 26 inches, from a standing start.

“And the day he took the test, he was being treated by the trainers for knee issues,” Gordon said.

The Owls are just 1-3-0, but Bragg-Grady is establishing himself as UMPI’s goalkeeper of the future. He has started all four games, and two of the losses were by 1-0 scores. He has made 39 saves and allowed seven goals for an .848 save percentage and a 1.75 goals-against average.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I wish I knew he was this good when he was on campus the first couple years, because he could have had an amazing four-year career,’ ” Gordon said. “He’s just far, far exceeded my expectations for him. He’s had some amazing, amazing saves.”

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How often does an athlete from Maine start for the No. 1 ranked team in the country — as a freshman? It happened Sunday when Messalonskee graduate Kristy Bernatchez got a start for the University of North Carolina field hockey in a game against No. 13 Iowa.

Bernatchez notched her first collegiate goal Saturday against No. 9 Michigan when she stole a pass and fired one in from long range to give the Tar Heels a 4-1 lead on their way to a 7-2 victory. Bernatchez did not score or take a shot in the Iowa game, which UNC won 3-1. Bernatchez also played significant minutes in each of the Tar Heels’ first two games.

North Carolina has home games Friday against Old Dominion and Sunday against Radford. The games will be broadcast live on the North Carolina website at http://www.goheels.com.

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Several recent college graduates and former players are now coaching at the college level.

Messalonskee’s Cameron Omsberg, a Lehigh grad, and Waterville’s Cam Bishop (Bowdoin) are both coaching in Maine. Omsberg is the lead assistant for the Bates men’s soccer team, while Bishop is the tight ends and assistant wide receivers coach for Husson football. Bishop is also partly responsible for Husson football recruiting in New Hampshire, Vermont, and eastern Massachusetts.

Lawrence graduate Nicole Guimond played at St. Anselm, and is now an assistant with the Assumption College field hockey team. Ross Gorham, who was not allowed to play field hockey at Gardiner because of his gender, is in his third season as an assistant coach with UNH field hockey. Gorham was also a student manager with the Wildcats for four years.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243
[email protected]