Before this season, Hall-Dale senior Konnor Longfellow had only scored one goal in his soccer career. Such is the life of a defender who rarely gets a shot at the opposing net.

But there was a scorer’s body inside Longfellow masquerading as a defender and this year he got to show the coach, his teammates and the rest of the Mountain Valley Conference what he could do given a chance.

Longfellow got a taste of offense when he played up front in the MVC championship game last year and recorded an assist.

“That gave me a little hope,” said Longfellow, who asked Hall-Dale coach Andy Haskell if he could move to the front line this season.

“I said if you work on your game in the offseason and get a little faster,” Haskell said.

Longfellow did. He ran track, qualifying for the state meet in the long jump, 100-meter dash and 4×100 relay and he worked on his individual skills. The result: A season in which Longfellow scored a school-record 35 goals and helped an otherwise inexperienced team to an unbeaten regular season. For his efforts, Longfellow has been named Kennebec Journal Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Maranacook’s Nick Lacasse was also considered.

Haskell already had a Longfellow, Konnor’s cousin Steve, set to play up front. But the emergence of Konnor caused the Hall-Dale coach to switch the two Longfellows by position, a move that worked well since both were named first-team all-conference.

Haskell also moved junior Nat Crocker from the front line to center midfield and it couldn’t have worked any better for Longfellow. First Crocker, who scored 26 goals last season, drew a lot of attention. Second, he and Longfellow quickly developed a sixth sense of where the other would be.

“We’ve been playing soccer together since the eighth grade,” Longfellow said. “Then we do All-Pro in the winter. We really kind of bonded right there. He’s really a great playmaker.”

Many of Longfellow’s goals came on breakaways in which the Bulldogs counter-attacked .

“He had some fantastic goals,” Haskell said.”It was part of our counter-attack style of play. With his speed and his physical ability, we’d have a real good chance of getting goals.”

In addition to his speed Longfellow gets his shots off quickly. Haskell told him to shoot anytime he saw an opening and he usually did. Longfellow also worked hard on his dribbling moves and often made ankle-breaking cuts with the ball as he did in Hall-Dale’s 1-0 win against St. Dominic. He counts a goal in the rain against Wiscasset as one of his favorites this season.

“I drilled it with my left foot and the goalie just stood there,” he said.

Haskell liked one against Mountain Valley in which Longfellow took the opening kickoff, dribbled through several defenders and scored in nine seconds.

“He ran track and got an extra gear in terms of sprint speed,” Haskell said. “Combining that and the work he did over the summer, we knew we found a scorer. He elevated his game two notches.”

Longfellow’s soccer career is likely over. He plans on attending the University of Maine, which doesn’t have men’s soccer, to study mechanical engineering.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638[email protected]Twitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ

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