MONMOUTH — This had the makings of a big season, one in which a Monmouth boys soccer team with talent everywhere might make the deep playoff run the Mustangs have been denied the last few seasons.

And then came the word. No playoffs. So much for that goal.

It didn’t take the Mustangs long to find another.

“We’ve got nothing to lose, so we want to play every game as hard as we can, and we want to try to win out,” senior midfielder Cam Armstrong said. “I think that we can win out, and we can show people how good we are and how good we’re going to be in the future.”

Monmouth took another step forward in its quest for a perfect season, abbreviated though it may be, beating Oak Hill 10-1 on the strength of four goals from junior forward Hayden Fletcher and two apiece from Armstrong and junior midfielder Travis Jamison.

Monmouth’s Travis Jamison shoots and scores against Oak Hill on Thursday in Monmouth. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

The Mustangs are now 3-0-0, with wins against Hall-Dale and St. Dominic also under their belts. And if the loss of the postseason due to the coronavirus took away some drive from the team, it didn’t take long for it all to come back.

“Before the season starts, when we weren’t with the team, it was obviously everyone thinking ‘Eh, no playoffs, it’s going to be hard to have some motivation,” Jamison said. “But once we got together, we set a goal of going undefeated, and we really stuck to that.”

Monmouth coach Joe Fletcher said he never saw a lack of intensity from his team.

“We’ve talked about a couple of things. We haven’t lost here since 2015, a regular season home game. So that’s been our motivation for here,” he said. “The motivation is that we practice hard every day. We end in a half-hour scrimmage, and then we really get after it.”

Drive and motivation were question marks with no tournament to play for, but talent was never an issue. Monmouth was a second seed in the Class C South tournament last year and in 2017, but the Mustangs had trouble translating it into postseason success with three straight quarterfinal exits.

Joe Fletcher thought he had the team to take that next step this season. And then the news came.

Monmouth’s Mike Dolan gets past Oak Hill keeper Caleb Filion on the way to scoring a goal Thursday in Monmouth. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“We’ve been building this particular group for a long time. I’ve been working with them since they were in fourth and fifth grade,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re not going to get to have a playoff. That’s the time that we’re living in, and we have to deal with it.”

The players were disappointed. But they found something else to shoot for.

“We’re just going to try to win every game, shut them down and see what we can do,” Hayden Fletcher said. “If we can go undefeated, that will show we’re one of the best teams, if not the best team.”

The Mustangs dominated against an Oak Hill team that made the playoffs last year but is rebuilding after being hit hard by graduation. Armstrong scored just over four minutes into the contest, Jamison followed with a score in the 18th minute and Fletcher found the net in the 21st.

Jamison then planted and blasted a shot into the top left corner in the 27th minute, and goals by Fletcher, Armstrong and Fletcher again gave Monmouth a 7-0 halftime lead.

As impressive as the goals was the way Monmouth played. The Mustangs owned possession, and would have been up by more if not for some big stops from Raiders keeper Caleb Filion (18 saves). Fletcher and Armstrong effortlessly dribbled around and through groups of Oak Hill defenders. A defense led by seniors Mike Dolan and TJ Lewis never let Oak Hill attack. Monmouth keeper Hunter Frost touched one ball in the first half.

“They play a lot of soccer, and it shows,” said Joe Fletcher, who also got goals from Cody Michaud and Kyle Palleschi, while Ethan Vattaso scored for Oak Hill. “It’s a good skill set.”

“We’ve been playing together since middle school. We all know what we can do,” Hayden Fletcher said. “We just trust everyone, and we play all the time. … We just love playing.”

They would have loved to play in the tournament as well. For now, though, winning all the games they do get to play will do just fine.

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