Troy Kendrick admits that with all of the success his program has enjoyed during his long tenure, seasons like Richmond’s 2014 campaign can sometimes be taken for granted.

“We can get a little spoiled. Sometimes we can forget how much work is involved in accomplishing these things,” he said. “But the next group of kids are always up for the battle and they want to write their own chapter.”

Coaching Richmond to nine state titles and 13 regional titles over a quarter of a century, Kendrick has been part of writing virtually the whole book. But the plot has rarely taken as many twists and turns as it did during the 2014 season.

“We certainly had some hurdles we had to overcome,” Kendrick said.

For helping his team overcome several waves of adversity and leading it to a 16-1 record and within one goal of a state championship, Kendrick is the Kennebec Journal Girls Soccer Coach of the Year.

As early as this summer, Kendrick had an inkling this season might be especially challenging. His team graduated three players off their 2013 regional championship team. Certainly not a large number, even for a Class D program, to withstand. But then several players moved away or decided not to play and Kendrick, whose rosters were often the envy of Class B or C schools in their numbers, suddenly had

“I just tried to balance things out, keeping people fresh, keeping people healthy and looking at the big picture,” he said. “Any season, especially soccer season, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So I tried to develop depth.”

The required his players to have a little more versatility and play more positions than they had in the past. That also meant learning new formations to cover any holes those position changes might cause.

“I can’t say enough about the young ladies I had to work with,” he said. “Just the daily grind of showing up and working hard over the long haul. They were just incredible workers.”

And it was a grind at times.

The Bobcats steamrolled their way through a 14-0 regular season, winning by less than a two-goal margin just once, a 1-0 victory over eventual Western Class C finalist Sacopee Valley. But with the thinner roster, success seemed more tenuous than it had in the past.

“We had our moments during the season. We sometimes marched a starting unit onto the field where we were missing some kids. It seemed like we weren’t very far from it all unraveling at some point,” Kendrick said.

That feeling never subsided, especially after the Bobcats lost senior striker Amber Loon, one of the most prolific scorers in the school’s history, for academic ineligibility, at the end of the regular season.

“I don’t want to say we had to reinvent ourselves, but we had to really scramble to put together a lineup that could compete against the top tier teams,” Kendrick said.

In the Western D semifinals, the Bobcats barely held off Rangeley, a team they had beaten twice during the regular season by a combined score of 13-1, by a 1-0 margin.

The Bobcats won their fifth consecutive regional title in much more convincing fashion, 8-1 over Searsport. The state final, against an explosive Ashland team, presented a vastly different challenge, however, so Kendrick devised a more defensive, possession-oriented game plan. Richmond nearly pulled it off, losing 2-1 in overtime.

“The girls were certainly game and gave it a great effort,” Kendrick said. “I think the kids processed (the game plan) pretty well. Obviously, Ashland was a heck of a ballclub, and we ended up taking them to overtime. I think we went as far as we possibly could go.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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