As is often the case, the Kents Hill boys soccer team is loaded with international players. This season there are 14 in the program representing seven countries — Canada, Mexico, Spain, South Korea, Japan, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

Coach Pat McInerney faces a couple of challenges. First, there’s a question of style of play. Many of his international players grew up watching high level soccer in their home countries where defenses play a flat four in the back. At Kents Hill, McInerney plays a diamond defense.

“It’s simple things like that,” McInerney said. “The thing that’s hard to splice it all together is what kind of soccer we want to play.”

American soccer, he said, is often more physical.

“A lot of international kids tend to want to play more short pass kind of pretty soccer,” he said. “American soccer is a little rougher game than they’re used to. Again it depends on where they’re coming from. Canadians who are hockey players don’t worry about physical soccer.”

There’s often a language barrier, too. McInerney said five of his players missed practice Monday while they were taking English language placement tests.

“Some of these kids when you’re first talking about a drill, they look at you like you’re crazy,” McInerney said. “But soccer’s universal.”

The Huskies open their season Saturday against Winchendon. Their schedule includes prep schools throughout Maine and New England where rosters are dotted with international players who are recruited.

“We don’t actively recruit for soccer,” McInerney said. “We have some pretty exceptional players but right now we have three returning starters. I think we’ll be competitive, but the last couple of years we’ve been stronger.”

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First-year Gardiner boys coach Nick Wallace got a pleasant surprise when Spanish exchange student Jesus Lasos showed up for practice nearly two weeks into preseason. The sophomore midfielder has been a solid fixture in the Tigers lineup the past three games.

“He didn’t get here until late,” Wallace said. “He hasn’t played a lot of competitive soccer in Spain but he has a lot of good skills.”

Lasos, 15, scored the game-winning goal with 59 seconds remaining in Gardiner’s 3-2 win against Oceanside and Wallace said he may move him to the front line from time to time.

“He understands first touch, distributing the ball and angles,” Wallace said.

The Tigers lost their season opener to Lincoln but played without Lasos and midfielders Josh Caldwell and Andy Roberts, both of whom have scored goals since. Senior Dan Del Gallo, who plays forward figured into five of Gardiner’s first six goals. Sweeper Trevor Quirion and forward Keegan Smith have also been key players for the Tigers.

• • •

It’s tough to say whether the schedule favors the Erskine boys team since they’re only a few games into the season. But the Eagles don’t see some of the traditional powers in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference during the regular season. That includes Bangor, Lewiston, Hampden and Mt. Ararat.

“It’s good in some ways but it’s bad in other ways,” coach Phil Hubbard said. “It’s all or nothing.”

The Eagles are 3-1-0 following Tuesday’s win against Messalonskee. They posted an impressive 5-1 win over Cony on Saturday, handing the Rams their first loss.

“I thought we did a very good job finishing in the second half,” Hubbard said. ” We weren’t as patient in the first half. We’ve got to do a better job of keeping the ball on the ground.”

Senior forward Tyler Adams scored three goals against the Rams, two from long range.

“His free kick was a laser shot,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard moved the 6-foot-5 Adams from midfield to the front line to take advantage of his size. He’s a relative unknown in the KVAC since he missed most of last season with an injury.

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After Tuesday night’s game at Wiscasset, the Hall-Dale boys had outscored their opponents 37-1 over their first four games.

“After being in the system a year, the kids are able to pick up from where they were last year,” second-year coach Andy Haskell said. “Offensively, we’re much stronger. Defensively, we’re working on improving.”

The Bulldogs have three explosive scorers in Colin Lush, Nat Crocker and Zack McNaughton as well as many others who can put the ball in the net. Haskell credits much of their success to an improved midfield that includes Tyler Fitzgerald, Spencer Shagoury and Zac Plummer.

As they did a year ago, the Bulldogs have focused heavily on conditioning. It hasn’t been that much of a factor so far since Haskell has played 23 or 24 kids each game. That will change as the schedule gets tougher. The Bulldogs host Monmouth on Thursday and face a big test at Dirigo on Saturday.

“We know where we stand in goal, we’re not trying to find one or two pieces and we have some pretty good depth,” Haskell said.

• • •

The Monmouth girls ran their record to 5-0 with a 1-0 win over previously unbeaten Oak Hill on Monday. The host Raiders did all they could to limit Monmouth high-scoring junior Kylie Kemp and held her to three shots. But one of those went in for Kemp’s 11th goal of the season.

“That was our game plan and it worked,” Oak Hill coach Nicole Camire said. “They capitalized on just one misstep. I told the girls at halftime one mistake would probably win it.”

• • •

Senior Eddie Stewart has been everything Richmond coach Joe Scribellito expected this season. The transfer from Wiscasset had five goals and four assists going into Tuesday’s game against Greenville.

“He has made the difference,” Scribellito said. “If he’s not scoring goals he’s generating goals. He’s brought the level of play up for the team.”

The Richmond coach said Stewart has working very well with fellow senior Randy Moody.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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