SKOWHEGAN — One game from his freshman season still motivates Miles Lambke.

“I remember there was one game we lost 16 to 0 to Bangor,” Lambke, now a senior captain on the Skowhegan Area High School boys soccer team, said. “It’s been quite the process. One of the things I’ve been hearing this year is, a lot of the guys were really motivated to start getting better throughout the summer. I’m really glad at how far we’ve come since freshman year… A lot of the tough games, when we were losing by a large margin and not scoring many goals, it’s tough to keep your head up but it’s that close group of guys off the field that keeps you going.”

The center midfielder for the River Hawks, Lambke has been in the middle of his team’s improvement the last few years. When Lambke joined the Skowhegan boys soccer team as a freshman, the team was in the midst of a losing streak that stretched over multiple seasons. Last season, Skowhegan went 5-8-1, and while not enough to earn a spot in the Class A North tournament, it was progress. Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Nokomis improved the River Hawks to 4-3-0 in this season shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lambke scored Skowhegan’s third goal in a four-goal first half outburst, breaking in and finding the left corner of the net with his shot with 28:10 to play in the half.

“It feels really good. It doesn’t happen often, but we came out well in the first 20 minutes,” Lambke said.

Skowhegan coach Jordan Hale calls Lambke one of the state’s top players, one who would be an All-American candidate in a normal season.

“He’s going to be tough to replace. For four years, everyone looks to him, gives him the ball, and stops and watches. I’m excited to see what happens when he’s not here, who moves and who steps up?” Hale said.

As his team’s center midfielder, Lambke directs the action throughout the game. On Tuesday, if Lambke didn’t have the ball, it was likely because he just passed it or it was coming his way.

“If it’s not coming from him, it’s going to him. Or he’s directing traffic out there. That’s part of that leadership. Take him off, it’s a silent game, and it’s a lot harder for us,” Hale said.

In a school where football is the dominant fall sport for boys, Lambke has been a sort of soccer Pied Piper. Skowhegan boys soccer hasn’t made a deep tournament run since 2000, when the team played in the regional final.

“(Lambke) knows the game. That’s the biggest thing. He plays year-round,” Hale said, “but Skowhegan is a football town. The athletes don’t play soccer. Well, Miles is one of the quote unquote cool guys. If the cool guys play soccer, I want to play soccer now. He’s gotten our younger guys to come play with us just as much as the older guys have.”

Skowhegan’s George Mitchell, right, and Nokomis’ Ryan Bell collide as they battle for control of the ball Tuesday in Skowhegan. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Added Lambke, who plans on playing collegiate soccer at Wesleyan, which competes against Colby, Bates and Bowdoin in the New England Small College Athletic Conference: “Soccer’s kind of something I really focus on. Next year I’ll be going off and playing soccer in college. It’s kind of a really big part of  my life. I just bring the attitude to work hard and keep pushing the whole team in practice and every game.”

That attitude is what makes Lambke the leader of the team, Hale said.

“It’s not like he steps up and yells and screams. He just does what he does, and people follow him. He’s a natural leader. We’ve got some vocal leaders on the team, but I need a natural leader everyone kind of flocks to. We all know that person. When he walks into the room, everyone knows who it is. He’s that guy for us,” Hale said.

There’s no playoffs to strive for this season, so Lambke’s goal is to finish this season strong, and continue to help set his team up for future success.

“We’re a really tight group of guys. Off the field, for sure, and I think that makes a huge difference on the field. We’re all willing to work for each other, and put in the work it takes to get better,” Lambke said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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