Once again, Class B North is loaded with several talented teams that could challenge for a state title.

Maine Central Institute moved up to Class B after two straight appearances in the Class C state championship game. The Huskies will join traditional powers Gardiner, Winslow, Lawrence and Nokomis in what will be a highly competitive league.

In Class C, defending state champ Oak Hill and semifinalist Winthrop look to sustain their success despite some key graduation losses.

Class B North may be the most competitive division in the state. In addition to area teams, regional champion Belfast and Foxcroft are also contenders. Schedules were also adjusted as teams play crossover games against Class A opponents.

“It’s going to be different for all of us,” Winslow coach Mary Beth Bourgoin said.

The addition of MCI is certainly significant because the Huskies have always played a Class B schedule despite competing in Class C. Last season MCI finished 12-2.

“We’ve always played a Class B schedule so that won’t change things,” MCI coach Nancy Hughes said.

Hughes’ team is loaded with returning talent, including 29-goal scorer Addi Williams. The Huskies stress a passing game and have paid particular attention to offseason strength and conditioning.

Preseason conditioning has been a focus for first-year Nokomis coach Taylor Lovley as well. The Warriors return nearly all their lineup from a year ago, led by goalie Chelsea Crockett and midfielder Lauren Burke.

“These girls are very talented,” Lovley said.

Gardiner graduated some key players from last season’s 13-1 team but the Tigers, led by Hailee Lovely and Mikayla Bourassa, return enough to contend.

“We’re going to be a little young,” coach Sharon Gallant said. “I think we’ll be decent.”

Lawrence returns nine players from last season’s 10-4 squad, including a pair of four-year starting defenders in Molly Folsom and Hunter Mercier.

“We’re kind of young but kind of experienced,” coach Shawna Robinson said. “They want it, they’re hungry.”

Winslow came on strong in the playoffs last year and knocked off top-seeded Gardiner and hopes to build on that. Defender Haley Ward and midfielder Weslee Littlefield lead the returning players.

“I definitely think we’re going to be competitive again,” Bourgoin said. “It’s a great conference.”

Waterville turned the corner last season by reaching the tournament after handing Gardiner its only loss, while Erskine hopes to build around a strong group of juniors.

In Class C, Oak Hill sustained graduation losses after reaching the state final the past two years and winning it a year ago. Coach Betsy Gilbert says her Raiders — led by center forward Maegan Sheehy and midfielder Zoe Buteau — can contend again.

“We got good speed and good ball control,” Gilbert said. “Our midfield is going to be our strength.”

Winthrop also graduated some key players but coach Jess Merrill is optimistic after a strong summer and preseason. Key returnees include Moriah Hajduk, Kinli DiBiase and Kate Perkins.

“I think we’ll be fine,” Merrill said. “We’ll be a different team come October.”

Mount View reached the tournament for the 10th straight year under coach Gloria Hewett and she expects no less this year. The Mustangs have a top-notch goalie in Alexis Bowman and a good playmaker in junior Rachelle Raven.

Hall-Dale returns seven seniors led by senior Jill Whynot. First-year coach Angela Corbin played for an unbeaten Hall-Dale team in the mid-90s and hopes to restore that past enthusiasm.

“We’re raising the bar and having more expectations,” she said.

Maranacook coach Jeannine Paradis has seen improvement from a team that returns 12 players.

“I would love for these kids to win a few games,” she said.

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