Carrie Larrabee’s good fortune has not been lost on her as she’s worked through her first week at the helm of the Erskine Academy boys soccer team.

“Erskine has absolutely fantastic kids, and they’ve just been willing to go out and work extremely hard,” Larrabee said. “The transition has gone really well.”

That it’s going smoothly shouldn’t be surprising. The Eagles, who played for the Class B state championship in 2015, finished last season as a playoff team once again under longtime coach Phil Hubbard. Hubbard left the post in April to take on a new challenge at Temple Academy in Waterville, while Larrabee stepped in after a five-year break from coaching at the high school level.

Larrabee was the boys varsity coach at Winslow from 2009-2011. Where Hubbard featured a five-back system and a team that wanted to counter-attack, Larrabee said her philosophy of the game isn’t quite the same.

“My style of play is different than what Phil had done,” Larrabee said. “He had a tremendous amount of success here, but my style is just different from his.”

The Eagles return a solid nucleus of players this season, but don’t expect them to all be pegged into the same holes they finished the 2016 campaign in. If anthing, there’s a bit of an “open tryout” feel in South China this summer.

It’s important for this Erskine team to find its own identity.

“My philosophy, as a coach or as a teacher, is to go into things with an open mind and be willing to adapt or change based on the success you have,” said Larrabee, a teacher at China Middle School. “I told the kids that we may try (something), and it may be that it works out great or it just isn’t going to work. But we have to see it in order to know one way or the other.”

Larrabee said that being a woman coaching a boys team isn’t as out-of-the-box as onlookers might expect. The players, she said, simply want to be coached.

“From an outsider looking in at it, I can see where someone would say, ‘I don’t see that a lot,'” Larrabee said. “But I think they just look at me as ‘Coach.’ They don’t see me as a male or as a female coach. It’s how you present yourself as a coach — the players are going to evaluate you and respond to you in terms of your coaching.”

Hubbard is also making a transition at Temple. The Class D Bereans feature a co-ed roster, as well as a lack of a track record when it comes to postseason play. In its brief history as a Maine Principals’ Association member, Temple has been involved in just one playoff game in its history — a 5-4 overtime loss to Islesboro in the regional quarterfinals last fall.

His resume, Hubbard believes, is the biggest thing he’s bringing to the Bereans in the preseason.

“They’re buying into what I’m trying to tell them,” said Hubbard, who won 115 games in 13 seasons at Erskine. “They know they have somebody who has experience with this, and that’s good for them.”

One challenge Hubbard faces is a roster that is comprised of nearly 50 percent of its players without any competitive soccer in their background. While he’s welcomed the challenge of building something that is essentially brand new, he is aware it could be a long process requiring patience.

“They’re soaking up everything, but I’ve got to be careful how much I give them,” Hubbard said. “It’s one step at a time. I know they’re going to be a solid team in Class D. We played a lot of soccer this summer — a lot of Friday nights and the Tuesday-Thursday league.

“We’ve got three or four players who are really good soccer players, we’ve got some decent athletes, and we’ve got some who have never played soccer before. It’s about taking those last 10 kids in with the others and making them into a program.”

Temple hosts Islesboro on Sept. 7 to open its season.

•••

There are some big changes at the top of the Class C South boys region, with the addition of one perennial power and another team coming off a breakthrough year.

Maranacook, which last November lost in the the Class B South regional final for the second consecutive year, returns to Class C after a two-year absence. The Black Bears won consecutive Class C state championships in 2013 and 2014.

The Carrabec/Madison co-op is also returning to the region in 2017, Last season, the Cobras earned the No. 5 seed in Class B South and won a home playoff game before losing in the regional quarterfinals.

Maranacook and Carrabec/Madison join a region that should be extremely interesting to watch throughout the year with reigning champion Monmouth, Hall-Dale and Mt. Abram teams that were young last season and Winthrop hoping to be in the mix come playoff time.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC