Nathalie Michaud, an endearing and powerful figure on the soccer field, helped transform the Madison girls soccer team into a force in the Mountain Valley Conference this season.

The Bulldogs have struggled in recent yers, but Michaud powered them to a conference title and a 12-1-1 regular season record. She scored 17 goals, many in crucial moments of big games.

For her outstanding season, Michaud had been named the Morning Sentinel Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Waterville’s Abbie Webster was also considered.

Michaud was clutch for the Bulldogs this season. She scored a key goal in the Bulldogs’ early season 3-1 win over perennial MVC power St. Dominic. Later, she scored two goals to help Madison rally from a three-goal deficit in a 5-3 win over Monmouth. In the conference championship game, she scored the game’s only goal in a 1-0 win over Dirigo.

“Nathalie has a combination of strength and skill and adapts to what the defense gives her,” Madison coach Mike Herrick said. “She can bulldoze her way through a defense and she can also beat players off of the dribble with her ball skills. She can beat you on a breakaway with her speed, or she can unload a shot from 35 yards out and beat you in the upper corner. While many players are one dimensional, Nathalie has the ability to beat you by recognizing and attacking a defensive player’s weaknesses.”

Michaud is more than just a goal scorer, she is a leader.

“My first three years we played more as individuals, this year we worked as a team,” Michaud said. “It is really rewarding to be part of something where everyone worked together to be successful.”

Michaud was joined on the Bulldogs by another high-scorer when Melissa White transferred to Madison from Carrabec. The pair worked together and complemented each other to the benefit of the team.

“That was a big part of the season,” Herrick said. “They accepted each other and fed off each other. They did whatever was best for the team.”

Michaud added: “I knew we could work something out, because teams were going to have to cover one of us and the other would be open. We were all good, we played together and were friends off the field, as well.”

Beating St. Dom’s, something the Bulldogs had never done, proved to be the turning point of the season for Madison. The win was part of a seven-game winning streak to start the season. The Bulldogs then lost 5-1 to Lisbon and quickly fell behind Monmouth 3-0.

“St. Dom’s has always been a struggle for us, but once we beat them, we knew we would have a good season,” Michaud said. “When we came back from 3-0 in the Monmouth game, to win, it really gave us the momentum for the rest of the season.”

It was that stretch of games that showed the maturity and strength of the Bulldogs, something Michaud and her teammates were very much aware of.

“In the past, once we got down, it got into our heads,” Michaud said. “This year, we were more mature, we started to realize what we had and we wanted to be a good team.”

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