SOUTH CHINA — Coaches typically welcome having a supremely skilled player on their roster. Yet any coach worth his or her whistle knows that sometimes with supreme skill comes supreme, uh, self-confidence.

When a player as talented as Erskine Academy senior Avery Bond comes along and not only lacks the trappings that sometimes accompany such talent but fully embraces her responsibilities as a team leader, a coach can’t help but appreciate his luck. Which is exactly how Erskine coach Ryan Nored feels.

“Avery’s the opposite of a diva,” he said.

The Eagles’ captain takes her actions as a role model as seriously as her status as one of the top midfielders in Class B. That is especially important this season, which started with her flanked by talented freshmen, Lauren Wood and Kayla Hubbard, on either side (Hubbard has since been sidelined due to injury).

Bond and her new teammates jelled quickly, in part because Bond was excited to have scoring threats to feed off her passing ability.

“I like the quick-passing game. I’d rather assist someone than score the goal myself,” Bond said. “I like setting people up. I feel selfish if I shoot too much.”

Knowing Nored was within earshot of her comment, Bond quickly added, “And I know I need to shoot more.”

Yes, Nored has to occasionally remind Bond to look for her own shot. But he also acknowledges the Eagles have more weapons this year and is pleased with how Bond has walked the fine line between scorer and facilitator.

“She’s using that balance to teach these girls the same thing,” Nored said. “Lauren is the epitome of unselfishness, and Avery is teaching her that happy medium where you’re being unselfish for a teammate, but you’ve also got to score for your team.”

Through the Eagles’ first two games, shutout wins over Mt. View and Belfast, Bond has scored one of her team’s five goals. Yet Nored noted that all but one of the other scores were the direct result of either a pass by Bond or the openings created by defenses double- and triple-teaming her.

“Last year, I think getting marked by two or three players affected her a little bit, especially the physicality. This year, I think she welcomes it,” Nored said. “She’s definitely learned how to use it to her advantage, especially those defenders who are looking to be more physical than actually play soccer. Avery’s making them look foolish.”

“All I can do is play my game,” Bond said. “If there’s more than one person guarding me, obviously there are going to open people on the field.”

And Bond rarely misses an open teammate, or an opportunity to create an opening.

“She sees things on the field that someone her age shouldn’t see,” Nored said. “She sees through-balls. She sees space. She constantly creates space when she’s not with the ball, which makes her other offensive players that much better.”

Bond, who has been playing soccer since she was 5-years-old, credits an off-season spent playing for Velocity Soccer Club, a premier team based in Gorham, with preparing her for her senior season.

“I definitely learned a lot. I’ve improved a lot,” she said. “Seeing the field, my touches. Everything’s gotten better.”

Bond had the talent to contribute right away, but Nored worried about throwing a petite freshman to the wolves in the rough-and-tumble KVAC and relegated her to the JV.

“By the end of her JV year, it was pretty obvious I had made a mistake,” Nored said.

She carved out a role on the varsity as a sophomore, then became a force at both ends of the field for the Eagles last year, earning a spot on the Maine Soccer Coaches Association Eastern Class B All-Star team.

Bond hopes to continue her soccer career in college, preferably with one of the state’s many Division III schools.

But first, she has high expectations for an Erskine team that reached the prelim round in its first year in Eastern B last year and advanced to the Eastern A semifinals when she was a sophomore.

“I think so far that this is our best team yet,” she said. “Even though we have some freshmen on the team, their skill level is up there. I think we’ll do really well this year.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

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Twitter: @RAWmaterial33