WINSLOW — It would be easy to overlook the starting center back on one of the most prolific scoring teams in the state. Steve Bodge didn’t.

The Winslow girls soccer coach knew exactly how much senior Maeghan Bernard meant to his team from start to finish this fall, anchoring a Black Raider defense that conceded just 13 goals all season — including the playoffs — while posting eight shutouts. For her efforts, Bernard has been named the Morning Sentinel Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Messalonskee’s Anika Elias and Edin Sisson were also considered

“I wanted to do as much as I could for my team,” Bernard said. “I’m not a scorer. One of my biggest responsibilities was to not let the other team score.”

She did that well.

Winslow allowed just nine goals in the regular season, both opening and closing its 14-game schedule with three consecutive clean sheets. Bernard’s veteran presence, and her fleet feet, made her extremely difficult for the opposition’s attack to get behind.

The defensive metrics for the Black Raiders were even more impressive when considering that the team welcomed a new goalkeeper in sophomore Jennifer Ferry this season.

“Maeghan took it upon herself to protect that first-year goalie and make every play,” Bodge said. “She has an awesome combination of speed, strength and intelligence. She knows what people are going to do before they do it. She knows how to use the angles, and she spent years and years stopping teams from what they wanted to do against us.”

Bernard comes by her defensive convictions honestly. A former goalkeeper in her youth days, she’s been drawn to competing on that side of the ball.

As a junior, Bernard was on the field for all but 15 minutes of the season. This year Bodge afforded Bernard more rest in order to keep her fresh for the team’s run to the Class B North regional final, much to her irritation.

“Every time I took her out, even if we were up three or four or five to nothing — she wanted to go back in to preserve the shutout,” Bodge said. “That was very important to her.”

“That is very true,” Bernard said. “I think our whole team took pride in getting a shutout, not just me. If we let in one or two goals, even if we won, we still felt that wasn’t the best game we could have had. Having a clean slate meant it was a successful day for us.”

Winslow’s offense scored 76 goals, including the playoffs, averaging more than four goals per game. That didn’t put any less emphasis on the team’s defense, or Bodge’s insistence that Bernard was as important as any other player of the field.

In fact, given the long stretches when the Black Raiders didn’t find themselves under pressure, Bernard — and Paige Trask, with whom she was paired in the team’s diamond-four formation in the back — was often called upon to do her best work against quick counter-attacking opportunities.

Bernard also grew into her role as a back capable of doing more than simply clearing balls to the wide areas of the field. In her final season, she became more than able to launch the Winslow attack through the middle of the field.

“The way she would control the field — she can start the offense for you,” Bodge said. “She knows when to clear, when to be safe with the ball, but she also knows when to start the offense. She really did a good job of getting it to the midfielders in the middle and getting play going forward for us.”

If there’s one game Bernard will remember above all others this season, it was the 3-0 win over Hermon in the regional semifinals. Winslow won 3-0 in a game that left the Hawks flummoxed and out of sync throughout the 80 minutes.

Not surprisingly, Bernard provided the backbone for that.

“We all had the mindset that we need to make it further than the quarterfinals for the first time,” she said. “We did that. We made it to the semis, and I just did not want to lose that game.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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