After graduating nine seniors from last year’s team, the Monmouth boys soccer team might not exactly have a new identity, but they do have some new faces in key roles.

One of those faces is junior midfielder Gabe Martin, who is being tasked with organizing the middle of the park for the Mustangs.

“Gabe’s our engine,” Monmouth coach Joe Fletcher said. “As he goes, we’re going to go. He plays so hard all the time, he’s always creating opportunities for him and for his teammates.”

Martin recognized that this could be a big season for him.

“I can’t say I didn’t expect it, losing nine seniors,” Martin said. “Somebody junior or senior age was going to have to step in. I like it, I like this team, I like the guys. There’s good energy, and it’s a good soccer community.

“As a whole, our midfielders are coming together. Me playing there, it keeps the guys’ energy up when my energy’s up. That’s good to have.”

It’s also good to have some other young players settling into roles as the season nears the midway point already. Monmouth will completed a full half of its 14-game schedule when it hosts Carrabec on Thursday, a frontloaded schedule allowing for a lengthy break as the school’s entire freshman class heads on an annual week-long trip to Acadia National Park.

Freshman striker Hayden Fletcher is one of the players Martin has noticed.

“He’s a very well-developed player for his age,” Martin said. “I’m really proud of his effort the last few games in general. Easily seven, eight, nine goals — it helps our team a lot with young people coming in and helping things out.”

Martin himself is one of the players steering new faces into prominent roles already.

“He’s stepping up and becoming a leader,” Joe Fletcher said of Martin. “He’s had people in front of him who always led, but now is his chance. He’s only a junior, and we’re going to have him back for another year, too.”

• • •

The Mount View boys won’t be overlooked any longer.

After a storybook season in 2017, in which the Mustangs went 13-1-0 and earned the No. 3 seed in Class B North, the team isn’t sneaking up on anybody anymore.

The Mustangs have all the key ingredients for success, most of which were on display in a 3-0 win over Winslow on Wednesday which avenged the team’s only regular-season defeat from last autumn.

“We have the top four (ingredients) in my mind,” Mount View coach Dale Hustus said. “We have size, speed, ability and the biggest one, experience. We’re an experienced club this year.”

While Hustus felt like he had some of those key attributes a year ago, he would not have copped to having experience.

“No. Last year, I would have told you we were still young,” Hustus said. “I have multiple players this year that I’ve seen huge amounts of maturity in, a lot more willingness to do what’s right for the team instead of what’s right for me.”

Junior Elijah Allen has blossomed into one of the best central midfielders in the region, and seniors Logan Curtis, Andrew Savoy, Cassidy Pound and Darrett Fowler — among others — have provided a number of attacking options to make the Mustangs a relentless threat in the attacking third.

• • •

When do you win, even when you don’t? When you’re the Carrabec girls soccer team and you erase the painful memories of double-digit losses.

The Cobras dropped a 2-0 decision to Monmouth on Monday, but it was a result head coach Heidi Vicneire praised.

“This is four years of me being part of this team, and it’s never been like that,” Vicneire said. “Last year it was 8-0 (against Monmouth), and my girls remember that. This is a win in some other ways, even if it’s not a win on the books.”

Carrabec may be more of a defensive team by nature, but Vicneire believes the entire team buying into a defense-first effort against the Mustangs was a difference maker on Monday.

Even senior Makayla Vicneire, a center midfielder, was dropped into the back line against Monmouth and paid dividends.

“Makayla, she’s the playmaker,” Heidi Vicneire said. “When she was able to make some plays there, it helped.

“The whole team was defensive and they were just on top of it. I talk to them about it, but we don’t necessarily do it every game. This game, they were all, ‘OK, I do have my man and I’m marking up.’ The fact they only scored two goals on us is huge.”

• • •

Two area girls teams are off to flying starts to the season.

Maranacook, after narrowly making the Class C South tournament a year ago out of the No. 8 spot, entered the week at a perfect 4-0-0 and holding the top spot in the region.

It’s a notable achievement for the Black Bears, who play in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference with a schedule comprised entirely of Class A and Class B schools.

In Class A North, Messalonskee answered a season-opening loss to regional leader Camden Hills with three straight wins to enter the week ranked third.

One reason for the strong start for the Eagles is senior striker Anika Elias, who has eight goals already on the season. Elias transferred from Waterville, where she played on the Panthers Class B North regional championship squad in 2016 and was the team’s go-to goal scorer last fall when senior Sophie Webb was lost to a knee injury.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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