WATERVILLE — Two years ago, Phil Hubbard wondered if Temple Academy was ready for him. Last month, the proof arrived that it was.

Hubbard led the Bereans to the school’s first regional championship game in any sport in his second season with the program. After winning 15 straight games this season, Hubbard has been chosen as the Morning Sentinel Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.

This is the third such honor for Hubbard, who was the Kennebec Journal’s coach of the year in both 2009 and 2015 — having led Erskine Academy to a regional championship in 2015.

“I thought we were on the cusp of a tournament run, but the pieces had to be brought together to make it work,” Hubbard said. “I felt this team was extremely cohesive, really believed in each other and they accepted their roles which made it easier for that.”

Hubbard left Erskine after winning more than 100 games there to take on a role as the assistant principal and athletic director at Temple in 2017. He wondered then if the Bereans were ready for the soccer pedigree he was bringing with him, which included a summer program and a more disciplined style of play.

As it turned out, the blend of local student athletes and international students heading to central Maine for the first time, were starving for it.

“It has gone better that I ever expected,” Hubbard said. “I’ve had complete support from the administration, our parents and our community. And there’s also the mixture of remembering what it was like when we got that far at Erskine. For this little tiny school, what this meant — everybody came together.”

The biggest challenge for Hubbard wasn’t tactical or technical. It was being able to bring a group of students from near and far together, having them accept new roles within the team and embrace a team-first soccer culture.

The Bereans were unbeaten in the regular season in 2017 but lost in the first round of the Class D South tournament. This year, after switching to a much more difficult East/West Conference schedule, Temple went 13-1-0 in the regular season.

The lone loss came in the season opener against Richmond, a team which had played for the state championship the previous year.

“To start 0-1 was best thing that could have happened to us,” Hubbard said. “It was perfect. It paved the way for the rest of the season. The year before we went 14-0, but we were never challenged.”

Hubbard’s presence has elevated the Berean boys. It’s also had an impact on the girls there, too. He started a standalone Maine Principals’ Association girls varsity soccer team which competed for the first time this fall.

There are approximately 50 students in the school of fewer than 200 students playing soccer now.

“Kids are growing and learning and making these memories,” Hubbard said. “I couldn’t ask for any better.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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