The fortunes in Class B boys soccer took a pretty wild turn at the end of last season, with Maranacook seeing its 52-game unbeaten streak foiled in overtime in the South regional final and Erskine catching fire late in the season en route to the school’s first-ever regional title on the North side of the tournament bracket.

While both schools have some question marks entering the new campaign, one thing neither school lacks is depth.

Maranacook may have bid adieu to dynamo Kent Mohlar and all-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference defender Chris Beckwith, but they return one of the state’s best all-around players in senior Hayden Elwell and goal-scoring threat Sam Wilkinson, along with central defender Jackson McPhedran. Additionally, the Black Bears, who won consecutive Class C state titles in 2013 and 2014, have midfielder Nathan Delmar, who earned second-team all-KVAC a year ago.

“Elwell is probably one of the better players in the state, and (Wilkinson)’s U17 team just won a national championship,” said Maranacook coach Don Beckwith, who welcomed the move to Class B last season, even if it didn’t result in a state title.

“We enjoy Class B. I’d rather play 15 teams like Yarmouth every year, and that’s what these guys want, too. If I could play Yarmouth every other day, I would. That’s how you get better.”

Erskine, undoubtedly, lost nearly as much as Maranacook did from last year’s team with a total of 33 goals off the feet of Trevor Hubbard and Luke Peabody gone to graduation. But coach Phil Hubbard sees a similar team to last year’s ready to take advantage of openings in the starting lineup. There are just five returning seniors on a team built around a nucleus of juniors and sophomores (11 of them in all) — most of whom saw significant minutes in 2015.

“These kids know how to play the game,” Hubbard said. “When you can play significant minutes as sophomores, it makes a difference. In that sense, these guys now have the same opportunity as the guys did last year.”

Waterville and Winslow, respectively, should both be in the hunt, too.

The Purple Panthers were right in the thick of a deep Class B North region a year ago, finishing fifth despite winning 11 games and only losing twice during the regular season. This team should be even better after only graduating one starter from last year’s group that featured two all-conference all-star selections in Peter Mayhorn and Ethan Cayer.

Already during the preseason, freshman Zaharias Menoudarakos has made an impact for Waterville, both in goal and at the striker position. He joins a crop of young, talented newcomers who add to the Panthers’ depth.

Winslow lost to Erskine in the B North quarterfinals, taking the Eagles to penalty kicks before being ousted, but the Black Raiders have most of their back end still intact from last year’s team and will rely on their defensive effort to carry the load through the early stages of the season.

Gardiner narrowly missed the playoffs last season, despite finishing with a winning record, and the Tigers are hoping that they can score enough goals to complement what has shown to be a good defensive backbone in the preseason. The team welcomes a new starting goalkeeper in junior Connor McGuire and hopes to have a number of players step up and support Cam Bell and Casey Bourque in the goal-scoring department.

At MCI, Scott Varney is in his second stint as head coach and sees a Huskies team that is progressing in the right direction. After just missing out on the playoffs last year, MCI could surprise some people. The Huskies have 12 seniors, and they are set in goal with Aidan Peacock with striker Caleb Romanov a promising option at striker. Controlling the middle of the pitch to bridge the gap between Peacock and Romanov will be key.

Mt. View is a young team, but the Mustangs think this could finally be the year to put the pieces in place for a playoff push. A veteran back line steered by Kevin Richards will have some help in front of it in the possession game in the form of talented freshman Elijah Allen, who brings speed and skill to the middle third. Senior Brandon Reynolds will be a threat off set pieces.

Nokomis has a new coach in Mike Umbrianna, but the Warriors have a veteran group that could surprise after a down year last year. Carrabec is short on numbers and making the move back to Class B this season, hoping for a few younger players to step in and play valuable minutes.


In a wide open Class A North, expect Messalonskee to be right in the middle of it all. The Eagles have an athletic group of backs after moving some midfield parts around to shore up the back line, and that group should help a pair of new junior goalkeepers find their footing between the posts.

Jack Moore might not get the recognition he deserves at Messalonskee as a key part of the midfield who can help the Eagles create scoring chances, something they struggled with at times a year ago.

“Jack has his fingers in everything we do in the midfield,” Messalonskee coach Tom Sheridan said. “We have some size up front, and he can distribute the ball really well.”

Skowhegan is primed for a playoff run after turning things around last season. The Indians snapped an 11-year winless streak early in the season and finished with a 4-9-1 record, just one spot shy of a tournament appearance.

While Lawrence went winless last year, the return of a large senior class should provide the leadership needed for a team intent on bouncing back in a big way with a playoff appearance this season. While the Bulldogs have plenty of options on the attack, locking down the defensive third will get the most focus early in the season, with senior backs Ian Blaisdell and Nate Buck being asked to shoulder some of that load.

Cony made the playoffs a year ago and should be right in the mix to do so again, while Mt. Blue is hoping that it can return to playoff form after missing out last season.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC