When a team hasn’t allowed a goal since its season opener, most coaches wouldn’t tinker with what’s working.

Most coaches, it’s safe to say, aren’t Maranacook boys soccer coach Don Beckwith.

Midway through another unbeaten season, the Black Bears (11-0-1) have flipped their center midfielder and center back — moving senior Hayden Elwell into the midfield while dropping junior Jackson McPhedran into central defense.

“I usually play center mid during premier soccer, so it’s not that much different for me,” Elwell said after setting up the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Erskine on Tuesday night. “I feel like we play a lot faster with me there and Jackie in the back. Jackie does really well at back. He’s a fast player and he can see the field really well.”

The Black Bears have outscored opponents 52-1 this season. The offensive output is skewed somewhat by three lopsided victories — two over Spruce Mountain and one over Nokomis — which accounted for 29 of those goals. Moving Elwell into the midfield, Beckwith hopes, will add some punch to the attack in time for the Class B South tournament.

“(Elwell) is good everywhere. He is. He’s a jewel, he really is. He’s going to be tough shoes to fill,” Beckwith said. “(Jackson) is a great defender, and the other kids with him are pretty good, too.


“I’m pretty fortunate that I have a lot of different options. We have a lot of guys we can move into a lot of different places. We can come at you from a lot of different ways.”

The versatility of both Elwell and McPhedran has made the change virtually seamless for Maranacook. That, and the Black Bears ability to hound opponents up and down the field.

“It’s our pressure. That’s all we work on in practice is pressure, pressure, pressure,” Elwell said of the key to the team’s defending this season. “It makes teams scared, and they kick the ball out of bounds, which is good for us. We try to keep the pressure up and get our chances when they come.”

But even with only two games remaining and the top seed in Class B South all but locked up at this point, the Black Bears aren’t taking their foot off the gas pedal. An eight-game winning streak still provides plenty of opportunity for self-reflection.

“That’s what makes me who I am. I’m never happy,” Beckwith said. “That’s just who I am, and I think that’s what makes us as good as we are. I expect as much out of them every time they step on the field, and that’s just how it is. I don’t know how to be any different. When they walk between the lines, I expect 110 percent 100 percent of the time. If you can’t give me that, I’ve got a place for you.”

• • •


The Mountain Valley Conference has announced its boys and girls championship games will be played at Thomas College on Thursday, Oct. 20.

Monmouth will play Madison/Carrabec in the boys game at 3 p.m., while Madison will face Oak Hill in the girls game at 5 p.m.

Madison would have played Monmouth for a third time this season on the girls side, but Monmouth coach Gary Trafton opted not to have his team play in the match.

“We don’t have a lot of depth on our team. I talked to the other coaches and talked to the girls about it, and we decided that we’re looking to go far in playoffs. If we lose someone in a game that’s just for a conference championship and a plaque, that probably wouldn’t be worth it for us,” Trafton said. “They were kind of disappointed but they saw the reason. We’re one of the top two teams in the conference and we don’t need to go play in a game like that and get a little plaque to know it.”

Monmouth is 12-1-0 and sits atop the Class C South standings. The Mustangs only loss this season came against Madison, which is also 12-1-0.

Two years ago, Monmouth lost three starters in the MVC title game. It was a road Trafton didn’t want to go down again.


“If I had 20 girls that were all playing at the same (talent level), thats a different thing,” Trafton said. “But we don’t. I’m looking at what’s best for my team in terms of the playoffs.

“When we played that Madison game (two years ago), it went to one or two overtimes, and the intensity was pretty high. Whenever you put a championship on something, that’s what happens. The intensity ramps up. Why do we need to do that so the conference can make some extra money?”

Monmouth closes its regular season Thursday afternoon against Oak Hill.

• • •

A six-game unbeaten streak has propelled the Nokomis girls soccer team into the No. 6 spot in the Class B North standings with a 7-3-2 record.

One of the biggest reasons the Warriors have been such a pleasant surprise this season has been the play of senior center back Laura Freudenberger. Nokomis has allowed one goal or fewer in exactly half of their contests to date and is currently in a run of three consecutive matches where it has allowed just a single goal.


“I think it’s our communication back there,” Freudenberger said after the Warriors tied Winslow 1-1 last Friday. “We just make sure that when the ball is back there, we get it out.”

“She’s really been big for us,” Nokomis coach Todd Pelton said, noting that Freudenberger’s ability to distribute the ball out of the back might outweigh her ability to simply shut down attacking players in one-on-one situations.

“That’s the one thing that if we can keep doing, keep getting better at, might really make the difference.”

• • •

Erskine boys coach Phil Hubbard joked Tuesday that it was time for his team to start practicing penalty kicks — a nod to the Maine Principals’ Association’s tie-breaking penalty kick shootouts following overtime ties in tournament games.

The Eagles (7-3-2, 6th in Class B North) have adopted a five-back system over the last few weeks of the season and realize that if they are to make the same type of noise they made last year in a late-season run to the Class B state championship game, they’re going to do it by keeping other teams from scoring goals.


Over their last five games, the team has allowed a total of one goal. Goalkeeper David McGraw’s return to the lineup has been a big factor.

“He can keep us in games, and that’s what I’ve told him,” Hubbard said. “He can steal us games, which he did against Lincoln and which he almost did (against Maranacook).”

McGraw made three point-blank, diving saves Tuesday against the Black Bears to keep the game scoreless deep into the second half.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter; @TBarrettGWC

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