The philosophy coach Phil Hubbard used to lead Erskine Academy to unprecedented heights this fall was born in Dunbar, Wisconsin when he was playing for Northland International University.

“Offense wins games. Defense wins championships. That was always ingrained there,” Hubbard said.

Erskine got just enough of both to put together a remarkable run through the Class B North tournament as a 10th seed and earn the program’s first state championship appearance, a goal Hubbard and some of his players had been working to attain for nearly a decade.

For his efforts, Hubbard is the Kennebec Journal Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.

One of the keys to the Eagles’ success was Hubbard’s ability to convince his players that the 10th seed and the 10-4 record that got them there were just numbers that meant nothing at playoff time.

“We always had the mindset that record is good for seeding,” he said. “The seeding is only as good as how hot you are at the end of the season.”

And thanks to their hard work and persistence, the Eagles were playing their best soccer at the end of the season. They won six of their last seven and battled powerhouse Maranacook in a 2-1 loss.

Over the next two weeks the Eagles kept their bus odometer rolling, winning road playoff games over No. 7 Mt. Desert Island of Bar Harbor, No. 2 Winslow and No. 3 Presque Isle — the last two on penalty kicks — and then upsetting top-seeded and defending regional champion Ellsworth, 2-1, in the B North final.

Hubbard shifted the Eagles between formations throughout some of those games and had detailed scouting reports prepared on each of the opponents, most of whom he’d seen in person. Some of the players who have played for the him going back to when they were grade school weren’t surprised by how prepared Hubbard had them.

“He’s always keeping us current, everything that’s new (in soccer),” senior goalkeeper Denver Cullivan said. “He’s researching more than anybody could think of.”

“He’s like a father figure on and off the field,” Cullivan added.

Players such as all-KVAC selections Luke Peabody, Caleb Barden and Josh Reed go way back with Hubbard and his son, Trevor, an all-conference forward/midfielder on the team. The bond they all shared through the sport culminated in a dream season in 2015.

“It’s beyond just soccer. The camaraderie of the families knowing each other, traveling together at young ages, going to soccer tournaments, getting to know each other,” Phil Hubbard said. “They’re such a close-knit group, even beyond the players. The families know each other real well because of the fun we’ve had over the years and there’s been a lot of fun together.”

The fun didn’t stop even with a 3-0 loss to Yarmouth in the state championship. It will continue for Hubbard every time he reflects on the season and perhaps even as he looks forward to future seasons.

“We held to three things this year,” he said. “Number one is discipline. Discipline on the field and off the field, how we handle things, because people aren’t going to remember how many goals you score. They remember how you played the game. We had three cards all season”

“Hard work is our second ingredient and our third ingredient is heart,” he added. “Winning that way shows a lot more respect and we want that to be ingrained throughout our whole program.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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