WATERVILLE — At the collegiate level, scoring goals has become an art form.

Whether it is an upper-90 blast from 35 yards out or a leaping header off a corner, there are many different ways to paint the beautiful picture of the ball going into the back of the net.

This fall Dakota Duplissie, a senior captain on the Thomas College men’s soccer team, displayed his artistry on a daily basis.

The Maranacook Community High School grad scored a league-high 17 goals — four of which were game-winners — and added five assists on his way to being named the North Atlantic Conference Player of the Year. He also helped lead the Terriers (10-5-3) to their third straight appearance in the NAC championship game, where they dropped a 4-0 decision at Husson University last Saturday.

The 17 goals he scored this fall tied him with Mike Trott and Alex Alves for sixth most in a single season in school history. Duplissie finished his career tied with Tim Costa for seventh in all-time goals (37) and eighth in all-time points (89).

“His skill has improved tremendously and that’s allowed him to create more opportunities to score different types of goals,” Thomas coach Christopher Parsons said. “He’s scored some fabulous goals from 30 to 35 yards out but he’s also been able to finesse certain goals. He’s also been able to create opportunities from six to eight yards out because his technique is better.”

For Duplissie, though, his maturation on the soccer field only partially tells the story of his development as a player.

As a senior at Maranacook, Duplissie was one of the best players in the state, scoring 30 goals and being selected all-New England.

Duplissie, like many high school seniors, was trying to figure out where to go to college and had a short list of schools that included the University of Maine at Farmington, Southern New Hampshire University, Springfield College, Franklin Pierce University and Lasell College — but not Thomas.

“I went and watched a game against Springfield here because I wasn’t looking at Thomas or anything, I was looking at Springfield,” Duplissie said.

Ultimately Duplissie decided to go to UMF after speaking with Parsons, but when he got the job coaching at Thomas, Duplissie elected to follow Parsons to Waterville. It would ultimately be a life-changing decision for the Hampden native.

“If I was at a big school I would have just been another number,” Duplissie said. “Honestly, I wouldn’t have been in school.”

Duplissie speaks frankly when talking about the first semester of his freshman year. He — like so many making the transition from high school — had trouble balancing schoolwork, athletics and hanging out with friends, and as a result his grades suffered.

“I couldn’t get the time management down and we’d always talked about time management in classes in first-year (seminar),” Duplissie said. “It was ultimately grades that I didn’t do well with.

“…I’ve definitely been at rock bottom.”

It was at that time that he remembered a phrase from his high school soccer coach at Maranacook, Don Beckwith, and he — with the help of those around him in the school community — brought himself back from the brink of being another statistic.

“Everyone goes through troubles and Coach Beckwith actually used to say this one thing: ‘It’s a mistake if you don’t learn from it,'” Duplissie said. “I definitely learned from it my first semester here, but Thomas is a great community. People were here that wanted to support me and saw things in me that I may have not seen my freshman year.

“It really opened my eyes that I didn’t want to let my mom down, I didn’t want to let my meme down. Also, I didn’t want to not go to school. Truthfully, I may say I might not like school but at the end of the day education is what you need.”

Since that first semester, Duplissie has thrived. He is on pace to graduate with a grade point average above a 3.0 and as one of the best goal scorers in program history.

In addition to playing soccer at Thomas, he also plays on the men’s ice hockey and tennis teams,

“I’m where I want to be,” Duplissie said. “I’m a leader on the team, people know who I am around campus (and) teachers are awesome here. I have so many friends I’m going to be friends with once I’m done with college.

“It definitely was the right fit.”

In four years he has gone from someone who does not like going to school to someone who sees his future in one, as he is set to graduate with a degree in sports management and a minor in education.

“I love kids and I ultimately want to be a physical education teacher,” Duplissie said. “Honestly, deep down inside I’m a little kid at heart and I like to have fun with things that I do like being outside. If sports is involved, I’m there.”

Deep down there is still that same kid who began kicking a soccer ball on the sidelines not long after learning how to walk while his mother coached rec league soccer practices.

The same kid that used to go play soccer on his sister’s team after his game was finished if they needed an extra player, or participate in three to six hour clinics at Bouchard Field in Hampden.

The self-described jokester may have matured since those days, but don’t expect him to lose that part of himself.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley


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