It’s often said new seasons bring new faces, as the next batch of contributors replace the ones from yesterday.

Some teams, the fortunate ones anyway, return an abundance of talented players that usher in lofty expectations, even in the early going.

For a pair of championship soccer teams — the Richmond girls and Messalonskee boys — the opening of the fall sports season meant a little of both.

“This is our year,” said Richmond senior Noell Acord, whose team is the two-time defending Class D state champs. “I’m excited. Our whole class is ready. This is our year to dominate.”

Added Messalonskee boys soccer coach Tom Sheridan, whose team won the Eastern A championship last fall: “We expect to be successful. The last two seasons, we’ve been really, really good. Last season is last season, though.”

The fall high school season began Monday, when golf, field hockey, cross country, soccer and football teams all practicing in preparation for season openers that are less than three weeks away.

About 40 players came out Monday for the Eagles, who finished 13-3-2 last season.

Messalonskee graduated several key players from that team, including Nate DelGiudice and Chris Hall, but return enough talent to be a formidable foe yet again.

Sheridan said the focus this first week is acclimating the newcomers.

“We have a lot of freshmen out,” Sheridan said. We need to get everyone on the same page. We do have a number of kids returning, which is nice. They have that confidence because they’ve been there before. We’ll continue to play the same style. We’re exciting to get going.”

So, too, are the Richmond girls, who enter this season looking to plug a few up holes in key positions.

Danica Hurley scored 38 goals last season and 104 in her four-year career. She will play at the University of Maine this season. Goalie Lindsy Hoopingarner also graduated. She will play at Thomas College this season.

“They were both great players but we do return seven of our 11 starters,” Richmond coach Troy Kendrick said.

Added Sadie Gosse, one of 10 seniors on the team: “We won’t have to look to one person this year. We’ll all have to contribute.”

Elsewhere Monday, the Gardiner football team opened Year 2 in the Matt Burgess coaching era. The Tigers finished 6-3 last season and reached the Pine Tree Conference Class B semifinals. Like many teams did, they practiced twice Monday.

“Some of the stuff doesn’t feel so new anymore,” Burgess said. “I feel much better knowing the kids. I got re-acclimated with the town this summer and I just feel more comfortable. Having dealt with the kids before makes it easier.”

Added Gardiner senior Seth Wing: “We know him a lot more now, for sure. It’s a lot easier getting under his wing.”

While Burgess is settling in at Gardiner, new Oak Hill football coach Stacen Doucette called his first practice, “exciting.”

“Everyone made me feel right at home,” he said. “I’ve been working hard. I’ve been trying to be as visible as I can in the community. The kids know the expectations. I’m excited. The transition has been real smooth. We really can’t wait to see how things work out.”

The Raiders finished 3-6 last season and reached the Western C Campbell Conference quarterfinals under Dave Wing, who resigned earlier this year.

Doucette, who was with the Lisbon program since 1994, said he was able to get into some offensive and defensive schemes Monday.

“We had to run a lot of basic drills,” he said. “We went over terminology, techniques and conditioning. We followed a lot of guidelines but by the end of the day, we had a passing game, a little running game and some defensive games.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

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