Richmond graduated a slew of seniors last spring that had become household names after years of success on softball and soccer fields as well as the basketball court.

Despite the loss of those players, expectations were still high for a girls soccer team that returned just three starters. That’s just the way it is after you’ve won nine state championships, including the last three in a row.

“We were nervous,” junior Amber Loon said. “There’s a lot of pressure having so many titles.”

There was added pressure on Loon and her teammates since they were no longer complementary players. They came through, finishing at 16-2 and winning the Western Maine Class D championship.

Loon did her part, too, finishing with a team-high 27 goals and seven assists. For her efforts she’s been selected Kennebec Journal Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Also considered were Monmouth’s Kylie Kemp, Erskine’s Jade Canak and Hall-Dale’s Maura Stottler.

Loon has been a goal scorer since her freshman season, scoring a dozen and last year 22. But she’s hasn’t been the go-to player until this year.

“She’s a very skillful talented player,” Richmond coach Troy Kendrick said. “The kids looked to her with the vacuum that was left with all those kids leaving.”

Loon had help from sophomore Kelsea Anair, who scored 25 goals and recorded 11 assists, many of those to Loon. Kendrick lauded Loon’s passing skills, too.

“If we needed a goal she’d go and get us a goal or set someone up,” he said. “I don’t think anyone would accuse her of being a ball hog.”

Loon is a year-round soccer player, currently playing for the Bath Clippers, She began playing at age 8 because some family members had played the game and also because “it’s just a huge thing in Richmond. It’s what everyone does.”

Despite winning games along the way, it took this year’s team awhile to come together. It helped that expectations weren’t as high as in the past.

“We wanted to make it to the end and prove everyone wrong,” Loon said. “In the end we decided we’ve got to come together.”

Loon will step into a bigger leadership role next season, but she played a part in leading the team this year, too.

“She’s a quieter kid,” Kendrick said. “The younger kids looked to her to provide leadership and she did in her own way. She’s been a hard worker for me. She never missed a practice.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638[email protected]Twitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ