The Winslow and Maranacook boys soccer teams renew a rivalry this afternoon in Readfield that has been among the best in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.
Both teams come into this one unbeaten and largely untested. Winslow (7-0-1) played to a scoreless tie against Waterville before coming back to beat the Purple Panthers 2-0 in the rematch this week. The Black Raiders and junior goalkeeper Alex Berard have yet to give up a goal this season.
“The Waterville game he was tested a little bit,” Winslow coach Aaron Wolfe said. “He’s going to be a difference maker if he can come up with a big game.”
Maranacook (8-0-0) has dominated its opponents this season, outscoring them 32-2. A game against a quality opponent like Winslow is just what the Black Bears need.
“I wish I could play Camden and Winslow twice,” Maranacook coach Don Beckwith said. “That’s the type of team we’re going to face in the playoffs. If we’re not ready for that, we’re not ready for anything.”
Maranacook has dropped to Class C this year while maintaining its Class B schedule. A win today could put them in the top spot in Western C and assure the Bears home-field advantage in the playoffs. Both teams are similar in that they don’t rely on one or two players to score and they have plenty of depth. The Black Bears will need that depth since senior midfielder Taylor Wilbur is questionable with a knee injury. If Wilbur can’t go, sophomore Kent Mohlar move from wing to the middle to fill his spot, but Mohlar is also battling a hip flexor.
Wolfe believes all his players are ready to go although several are banged up. Both teams are quick but Maranacook has an edge in size and strength.
“They’re a very physical team,” Wolfe said. “That’s one thing we’re going to have to match.”
Maranacook handed Winslow its only loss of the regular season last year and later played the Raiders to a 1-1 tie. Beckwith believes he’s facing a more balanced team this year.
“I think they’re better because they have more weapons,” he said.
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It’s tough to complain when your team is 7-1-0, but Erskine boys coach Phil Hubbard would like to see a little more from his team.
Of the Eagles’ seven wins, four have been by a goal. Their only loss was a 2-1 decision to unbeaten Maranacook, although the final score doesn’t quite indicate the way Maranacook dominated the game.
“We’re getting wins, but I just think we’re acting young right now,” Hubbard said. “We’re just not finishing the games we need to. We’re winning the games we need to win, but we’re not putting away the teams we need to put away.”
Junior Ryan Rodrigue (eight goals) and freshman Sam Wilkinson (seven goals) have been finishing for the Eagles while senior Jared Gartley is a rock in goal.
“No real surprises,” Hubbard said. “I figured both strikers would score some goals this year.”
The Eagles face Maranacook again but don’t have to worry about the Black Bears in the playoffs since Maranacook plays in the Class C playoffs. They do have to worry about Class B east opponent Winslow who they play at home Thursday.
“Winslow, that’s the big one,” Hubbard said.
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The Cony girls find themselves in a dogfight in every game. The Rams were 5-3-0 heading into Thursday’s game against Hampden andfourth in Eastern Maine Class A.
“It’s not going to be a cakewalk for us with the rest of the schedule,” Cony coach Jeff Hersey said.
Hersey has juggled his lineup due to injuries to some of his forwards. He moved Hayley Quirion from center midfield to the front line to join her sister Emily and she responded with a pair of second half goals in a 2-1 win against Lewiston. Junior Paige Lamarre has also played well in the last couple of games and scored a goal against Oxford Hills.
The Rams play on the road at Bangor and Mt. Blue and finish the season at Oxford Hills.
“We still have some pretty tough ones left,” Hersey said.
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The Messalonskee boys (4-4-1) have been lurking well down in the tournament standings in Eastern A this season, but the Eagles shouldn’t be taken lightly. They lost 1-0 to once-beaten Hampden this week, giving up a goal in the last five minutes, and followed that with a 6-0 win against Mt. Blue. Earlier this year they lost in overtime to once-beaten Bangor.
“Our guys are just clicking together at the right time,” Messalonskee coach Tom Sheridan said. “It was a huge effort by our backs (against Mt. Blue).”
Senior Connor Leonard and junior Kieran Sherman are the center backs flanked by seniors Josh Allarie and Peter Littefield. And junior Jonah Webb has played well in goal.
Sheridan said senior Ryan Erskine usually has a hand in everything the Eagles do offensively while freshman Brandon Nale has proven to be a good finisher. Messalonskee has a key game against Edward Little on Tuesday and point-worthy games remaining down the stretch against Bangor and Lewiston, both at home.
“It’s very even in the East this year,” Sheridan said. “One day to the next, who knows.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638