Class B North is again the largest region in the state, and if any team looks prepared on paper to weather all of the challenges, it’s Winslow.

Leading scorers Sara Doughty (senior) and Carly Warn (sophomore) are back, as are a pair of senior center backs in Maeghan Bernard and Paige Trask. If there’s a weakness, it’s in goal, where the reins have been turned over to a group with no varsity experience.

Head coach Steve Bodge is excited about what his Black Raiders might be able to accomplish this season and thinks the team is good enough in front of goal to let a new faces there find footing.

“There is plenty of talent returning,” Bodge said. “The key will be team chemistry and goaltending.”

Erskine welcomes new coach Mike Falla, and the man who spent several seasons as an assistant with the boys program inherits a deep and talented roster.

Falla says that the loss of a couple of all-conference players will be made up for with a more team-oriented style of play.

“Our style of play is going to be balanced,” Falla said. “We’re really deep, and the difference between our starters and our Nos. 17-18 on the bench is hairline. We go beyond our 11 on the field, which is really nice.”

Waterville is leaner than it’s been in recent seasons, but coach Mark Serdjenian always gets the most out of a roster by focusing on defending and counter-attacking.

Mount View could be the sleeper under coach Dave Page. Goalkeeper Shala Davis is experienced as a three-year starter now, and she could be just what a group that won a summer 7-on-7 tournament at Mt. Abram needs as young players work into midfield and back line roles.

“Between the midfield and defense, we have seven out of eight new people in those slots,” Page said. “We just have to get the organization down. Last year, we were worried about how our offense was going to jell, but this year we’re more worried about how the midfield and the defense comes together.”

If there’s a surprise to be found in Class B North, it could be in Gardiner. The Tigers were winless in 2017 and also coped with the death of a teammate. Regrouped and ready, the Tigers can get into the playoff mix behind players like Anna Chadwick and Ammelia Lunt.

In Class B South, Oak Hill will again challenge the best the Mountain Valley Conference has to offer.

It’s another deep Raiders side, one with returning experience through all areas of the pitch.

Attacking player Eliza Whisenant, midfielder Sadie Waterman and back Jade Sturtevant will perform key rolls for Oak Hill.

CLASS A

Messalonskee was good enough to challenge the best in Class A North last season, and the Eagles have improved.

They’ve added Anika Elias, Waterville’s leading goal-getter a year ago, and first-year coach Chris DelGiudice has a great foundation from which to work.

Messalonskee proved a solid possession team in 2017, but finishing in the attacking third failed to materialize regularly.

DelGiudice said his focus has been on making that next step.

“It’s a different formation than they’ve been playing. That will be the biggest difference,” DelGiudice said. “There’s not really much that will be different other than that. A lot of people say they were one of the best keep-away teams a year ago, that they could hold onto the ball but they didn’t go anywhere with it at the other end.

“We’re looking to keep the ball on ground still and improve on getting it down to the other end and doing something with it.”

Skowhegan would like to join the playoff mix in a loaded A North region. What it lacks in soccer-specific athletes, the Indians more than made up for with athletes who have enjoyed success in basketball and softball.

“Our practices are so much fun because they’re so intense,” Skowhegan coach Mike Herrick said. “They felt like they could win and have expectations for this season. There’s no substitute for that I think I can mentality.”

Scoring is the top issue facing a Cony team aiming to handle adversity and setbacks better than it did last season. If the Rams can check off those two big items, coach Jeff Hersey said a playoff berth isn’t out of reach.

“We will be able to defend pretty well, and should be able to create enough scoring chances,” Hersey said. “Our ability to finish off those chances will determine whether or not we are a playoff team come mid-October.”

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