The Messalonskee girls soccer team hit the ground running last season and hardly looked back under first-year head coach Chris DelGiudice. The Eagles returned a strong veteran group, one that snapped a half-decade drought of  postseason appearances.

They may not be so lucky this time around, but that doesn’t mean the Eagles can’t contend in what DelGiudice said is a wide open Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference this fall.

“I feel like it’s going to be very different,” DelGiudice said. “Looking at a lot of the rosters, there were a lot of seniors on (the good) teams — more than some people probably realized.

“I think the league’s going to have a new look with a lot of new faces.”

Messalonskee certainly won’t be a finished product when its season kicks off, but that doesn’t mean the Eagles won’t be able to contend.

Senior center back Sarah Lowell returns and classmate Hannah DelGiudice will start in goal again. That’s a great place to start for Messalonskee, which may need some time to get its legs going on the attacking end as coach DelGiudice tinkers with his lineup to find the right combination.

Similarly, Skowhegan graduated heavily after returning to the playoff mix for the first time in more than a decade last fall, but coach Mike Herrick’s group got a taste of competitive soccer a year ago and should be in that mix again.

“I know what these girls are capable of,” Herrick said. “The question is how long will it take us to get there? Starting the season with some early success will do wonders for a team looking for a new identity.”

Cony is still trying to find some consistency with its group, and low numbers on the roster don’t provide a lot of depth.

Still, for a team that went winless in 2018, coach Jeff Hersey has seen plenty of positives in the preseason.

“This group of young ladies enjoy being together, and the work ethic shows it,” Hersey said. “The win/loss record depends on how quickly we can build up our skills, and get our legs under us. It’s a tough conference, but the girls are ready for the challenge.”

Camden Hills again enters as the frontrunner in Class A North.

Class B

Waterville and Winslow are still trending in slightly different directions.

While the Purple Panthers rolled in 2016 and 2017, the Black Raiders overtook their rivals last fall.

However, Waterville should see the benefit of rebuilding this fall while Winslow is left trying to retool a group that played in the regional final last season.

New head coach Lacey Smith — an assistant coach at Waterville last season — is tasked with keeping Winslow on track.

“Some players are being put into some positions they didn’t play previously,” Smith said. “The formation is different for them and the team is new for me — but some players are filling positions and stepping up to be starters now. It’s really just a focus of figuring out the right personnel each spot on the field.”

Waterville will have plenty of attacking balance, led by Paige St. Pierre and Sadie Garling, who should complement a perennially strong group on the back end.

“With a solid defense, dynamic midfield and energetic forwards, the Purple Panthers are ready to compete in Class B North,” head coach Mark Serdjenian said.

Class B North will look a little bit different this season, as Erskine Academy relocated to Class B South, joining Gardiner in the mix with some heavy hitters from the southern part of the state.

The Eagles will need to find better finishing touch around the goal, something that nipped them last year en route to an early postseason exit.

“If we execute our game plan and prepare, we’ll be competitive in every game play,” Erskine’s second-year coach Mike Falla said.

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