Mt. Abram boys soccer coach Mark Lopez knows there’s some tough competition awaiting his team in the Western Maine Class C tournament. Not only will Mountain Valley Conference heavyweights Hall-Dale and St. Dominic be in the field, but so will other powers from different conferences. Among those are Maranacook, which has dropped to Class C but is unbeaten in Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B play, as well as private school powers North Yarmouth Academy and Waynflete.
As tough as it might be to wade through all these schools, which have just two losses among them, Lopez knows one or two will knock off each other. And hopefully his team will continue to play the way it has lately.
“Our offense has really come together,” he said. “We’re moving the ball very well. Everyone’s clicking so they all know what they’re doing.”
The Roadrunners are 8-2-0 heading into today’s game against Spruce Mountain. They lost to Hall-Dale and St. Dom’s by identical 2-1 scores after taking a 1-0 lead in both games. It’s tough to key on any one player since seven of them have at least four goals this season. One player who has been hot lately is senior midfielder Chris Daly, who has scored seven goals in the last three games.
“He’s hitting the ball very well and picking corners,” Lopez said.
Gerardo Rio, an exchange student from Spain, is also getting used to his team and its style of play.
“His style of play at first was the polar opposite of what we do,” Lopez said. “After the first four or five games, he’s acclimating his game to ours. He’s certainly a big help up front.”
The Roadrunners are fifth in the Western Maine Class C standings with games remaining against Spruce Mountain, Lisbon, Dirigo and Carrabec.
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A tie isn’t always something to cheer about, but Carrabec coach P.J. Vicneire was pretty happy with his team’s 0-0 tie against unbeaten St. Dominic this week.
“That was definitely huge for us,” Vicneire said. “In the past, we just haven’t played well against them. We kind of loaded into the defensive end and waited for our runs.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Trent Richardson made 16 saves to keep the Cobras in the game. St. Dom’s keeper Ben Sawyer made nine saves and each team hit the crossbar once. Carrabec is 3-4-2 but remains in the tournament picture in Western Maine Class C in the 12th spot (13 teams reach the postseason).
The season turned midway through the schedule when Vicneire moved last year’s leading scorer, Will Crawford, back to defense and went with three fullbacks instead of four.
“We did that the second half of the Lisbon game and things have kind of changed,” he said.
Vicneire said the move has hurt the offense some but it’s kept the Cobras in every game except one. Senior John Layman has been a key defender for Vicneire, matching up each game with the opposition’s leading scorer. The return of junior forward Nick Cowan, who missed five games with a concussion, will also help down the stretch.
Carrabec plays at Mountain Valley today before concluding its regular season against Winthrop, Spruce Mountain and Mt. Abram.
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The Madison girls are in good shape heading into their final four games. The Bulldogs were 8-1-1 heading into Thursday’s game against Dirigo. They finish their schedule against Lisbon, Monmouth and Mt. Abram.
“Any of these teams can beat us,” Madison coach Mike Herrick said. “But if we play well, we’re expecting to win them all.”
Madison’s most important weapon has been senior goalkeeper Savanna Kandiko. She made 21 saves in a 1-0 win against Hall-Dale (Hall-Dale’s only loss) earlier this season.
“We scored early,” Herrick said. “Toward the end of the game we held on for dear life and she made some incredible saves. She’s given us a chance no matter who we’re playing.”
A 3-0 loss to St. Dom’s was the only game in which Kandiko has given up more than a goal. The Bulldogs are getting scoring from senior Kirsten Wood and sophomore Kayla Bass. When Wood missed a recent game due to illness, junior Whitney Lloyd filled in and scored four goals.
Herrick said he had questions about the team’s defense, but those were helped when he moved sophomore Emily Oliver back to sweeper this year. Last season she played outside midfield.
“She’s made the adjustment,” Herrick said. “She’s been huge for us.”
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The Erskine girls were 7-2-1 heading into Thursday’s game at Winslow and playing well. The Eagles dropped games to Maranacook and Leavitt and last week tied Morse and have a chance to redeem those decisions in their final three games.
The Eagles are getting solid play front to back. Up front, senior Jade Canak has come on strong after a slow start and is scoring well. She’s using her speed more judiciously, according to coach Ryan Nored.
“She’s become more patient,” Nored said. “Now she is either looking for a teammate or beating the goalie one-on-one.”
At midfield, junior Avery Bond, senior Emma Wilkinson and sophomore Emma McCormac are offensive catalysts. Wilkinson and Bond are veteran players who see the field well and create space for themselves and their teammates while McCormac has been a pleasant surprise.
“The last four or five games, she’s turned it on,” Nored said. “She can place the ball on a dime.”
In the back, goalkeeper Cassandra Ray has improved steadily since taking over in the fourth game of the year for Mattie Lajoie after she sustained a concussion.
“She saved us (Tuesday) night,” Nored said of Erskine’s 2-0 win over MCI. “MCI should have beaten us. Cassandra stopped two breakaways.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638