The common narrative leading into the Class C state championship game was that Monmouth Academy was ahead of schedule, that head coach Joe Fletcher thought it might be another year before the Mustangs became one of the state’s soccer powers. The truth is, Fletcher’s job has been as much about changing the soccer culture at the school as it has about producing wins on the pitch.

For his efforts in leading Monmouth to both the Mountain Valley Conference and Class C South regional championships, Fletcher has been named the Kennebec Journal Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.

“It was quite a process. When I took over, the program was in disarray, and probably we could have considered just disbanding,” said Fletcher, who left a similar rebuilding job at Oak Hill for the post at Monmouth in 2010. “We had only 13 players at the time I got here.”

What Fletcher saw, though, were players who would eventually make up the bulk of the junior and senior classes this season as he began focusing on building a youth program through pick-up games at Carrie Ricker School in Litchfield.

Last year, Monmouth advanced to the Class C South regional final, where it lost 4-0 to Waynflete. That experience, Fletcher said, set a tone for this season.

“We had three goals: Win the league championship, play in the southern Maine championship again, and the third was to make sure we competed in that game when we got there,” he said. “We talked about that Aug. 15 when we first met.”

For Fletcher, it’s all been about the community. His backyard is a haven for pick-up soccer games, and the shirts he distributes to players are emblazoned with the motto “Rebuilding Tradition, One Player at a Time.” Every time Monmouth wins a championship, either in the MVC or in the state tournament, former players are invited to celebrate on the field with current players.

“At the end of each season, I always remind each graduating senior how important they are in our soccer community,” Fletcher said. “I tell each of them that one day we’re going to win the state title, and when we do each of them should celebrate with us. I remind them that they are the foundation of what we have built.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC