Waterville’s dominance in 2014 earned it a Gold Ball and national recognition. It also put an exclamation point on the high school careers of coach Ian Wilson, who later stepped down to focus on coaching track and field at Colby College, and a very talented senior class.

The Purple Panthers probably won’t dominate the way they did last year, when they outscored opponents 92-2. They should still be considered among the favorites in Northern B because they have plenty of talent remaining, including the senior trio of goalkeeper Gabi Martin, defender Cody Veilleux and forward Fotini Shanos.

With three seniors and four juniors, the Panthers will be relying on their young talent to keep them elite. New coach Christine Bright, a former Colby College women’s soccer assistant, has a firm grasp on the expectations that accompany Waterville girls soccer every year.

“It’s really exciting to take on this challenge,” Bright said. “I have really big shoes to fill, but I think the girls have been receptive to my style.”

Hermon, which lost to the Panthers by a goal in each of the last two regional finals, remains Waterville’s biggest threat. Camden Hills, another perennial power, moved up to Class A, opening the door for teams such as Erskine Academy, Oceanside, Lincoln Academy and Winslow to claim challenger status in Northern B.

Erskine graduated Kennebec Journal Player of the Year Avery Bond as well as all-conference forward Christina Belanger. Eagles coach Ryan Nored is banking on his team’s ability to control the ball with a strong senior class, led by midfielder Mallory Chamberlain, and frustrate opponents with a stout defense backed by senior goalie Cassandra Ray.

“I’m really, really happy where we are right now on defense,” he said.

Like their rivals on the other side of the Kennebec River Winslow has a new coach in 2015, although the Black Raiders are much more acquainted with Steve Bodge from his spring role as softball coach.

All-conference goalkeeper Hillary Libby highlights a large senior nucleus determined to go out on top.

Several coaches pointed to Nokomis as a potential surprise. That includes the Warriors’ own coach Gary Sinclair, who touts the versatility of senior Audrey Temple, the savvy of senior midfielder Austin Taylor and his team’s depth overall.

“We really don’t lose much after our first 11,” Sinclair said. “We can go up to 18 and not lose anything on the field.”

Maine Central Institute hopes to tap into Waterville’s success with new coach Autumn Pepin, who was an assistant there for the last three years and also had a stint at Winslow. Pepin has already nearly doubled the number of girls in the program, augmenting a young, fast team to begin her tenure led by Sydney Morton, who was one of the top freshmen in Class B last year.

“We have so much to work on and the girls are excited to do it, and it’s starting to show up in terms of growth,” she said.

Another young team on the rise is Mount View. All-conference senior Ryleigh Lord anchors the defense, the team’s strength. But it is a promising sophomore class led by midfielder Katelin Bennett that could make the Mustangs a dangerous team.

With just three seniors, Gardiner features a relatively young squad as well. Coach Chad Kirk moved senior Jessica Hillman from the midfield to forward in hopes of helping junior Lauren Chadwick and sophomore Leslie Stevens with the scoring load.

Maranacook, one of the strongest KVAC foes for Waterville recently, returns to Class B after regional final and semifinal appearances during its two-year Class C stint. Although four-year goalie Liz D’Angelo and some other key contributors graduated, the Black Bears will continue to shut down opposing offenses with senior sweeper Lindsey Perkins and a talented midfield.

“We lost a lot of seniors. Basically, the bulk of our team was seniors last year,” Black Bears coach Mike Morin said. “I don’t think the talent will be the same, but I think the net result will be good. I have high hopes.”

Oak Hill graduated four starters and has a good balance of seniors, juniors and sophomores ready to contribute.

CLASS A

Messalonskee showed its mental toughness by winning seven games last year despite dealing with the tragic death of teammate Cassidy Charette in a hay ride accident in October. The Eagles will continue to remember Charette this season with “Shine on Cass” embroidered on their jerseys.

“Cassidy is in every one of our hearts. This would have been her senior year,” Eagles coach Penny Stansfield said. “We’ll do our best to honor her and the school as well.”

The Eagles graduated seven starters, but the back four and goalie Taylor Easler, a three-year starter, are all seniors. The offense remains formidable, with junior forward McKenna Brodeur, who scored 15 goals last year, and sophomore forward Lauren Pickett leading the charge.

Mt. Blue coach Fred Conlogue hopes the combination of a dynamic offense led by senior forward Eryn Doiron and a veteran midfield and back line will help his Cougars keep company with KVAC elite such as Bangor, Brunswick, Hampden Academy and newcomer Camden Hills.

“We added a pretty good team (in Camden Hills),” Conlogue said.

Losing seven starters could slow down Cony’s track back to playoff contention, but a promising freshman class has arrived to push the incumbents that do remain. The Rams also have one of the top goalkeepers in the KVAC in Autumn Sudsbury to alleviate some of the pressure on the still-evolving offense.

“That’s a nice starting point,” Cony coach Jeff Hersey said. “She’ll keep us in a lot of games.”

Lawrence is hoping a huge turnout for summer soccer and some talented freshmen can vault it into playoff contention.

Skowhegan will have a familiar face on the sidelines with the return of coach Scott Pillsbury. Pillsbury’s first project is to fortify the defense, which seniors Tara Bernard and Alida Bickford will lead.

“We’re working on building from the back,” Pillsbury said. “We had a lot of goals scored on us last year and we’re trying to lower the scoring so we can stay in games.”

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.