It’s hard to start a season more perfectly than the Hall-Dale girls soccer team.

The Bulldogs are 4-0-0 to start the year, scoring a total of 33 goals, while not allowing a goal defensively, and is currently second in the Class C South standings.

Hall-Dale senior Iris Ireland credited the strong defensive play to opening up opportunities on offense.

“Where it starts is in the defense,” Ireland said. “I guess being able to defend has really helped us be able to finish those goals, which we haven’t been able to in previous years. We’ve been pretty close, but now that we have such a solid defense, we have trust, which makes the game so much easier and so much more fun, too.”

Offense has been no problem for Hall-Dale, either, scoring nine goals or more in three different games so far this season. The Bulldogs played a tighter contest against Monmouth/Winthrop on Sept. 16, but still pulled away for a 2-0 victory. Karli Reith, Lily Platt and Hayden Madore have been three of Hall-Dale’s early offensive standouts.

One area where Hall-Dale may stand out from the pack is numbers. The Bulldogs have 29 players in the program this season, providing a level of depth not often seen in a Class C team.

“Everyone else is struggling for numbers and we have 29 people in our program,” Hall-Dale head coach Guy Cousins said. “We’re very excited about that because 13 of them are freshmen. It’s a group that we’re well familiar with. They played summer ball with us, prepping for the fall. We played in a (summer) tournament and won, we sent two teams to it and we won, and our other team came in second in the division. They’re competitive. They love to play. They’re really embracing the style that we play, which is a very possession, high-intensity kind of style, really aggressive to the ball, leading people to first touches. They’re really leaning into that sort of scheme.”

“We have a lot of players, but we also have a really deep bench,” Ireland said. “It’s not just extra players who aren’t at the same level. We’re all hitting a certain level that, in my four years, we’ve never hit before.”

 

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The lone team above Hall-Dale in the Class C South standings is Maranacook, which has started the year  with a perfect 5-0-0 record.

The Black Bears have cut through the opening portion of their schedule, outscoring opponents by a 36-3 margin. Maranacook hadn’t allowed a goal until late in an 8-3 victory on the road Sept. 16 against Gardiner.

The strong start isn’t too much of a surprise to head coach Travis Magnussen.

“We’re off to a great start for sure,” Magnussen said. “That’s what I kind of knew coming into the year, we were going to be really, really good. But we’re playing better than I guess I even expected. We’re off to a great start.”

Senior Emily Harper has been the offensive leader for the Black Bears, scoring 17 goals in the first five games, including six in a win over Cony on Sept. 11. But she’s been far from the only offensive leader for Maranacook. Addie Watson has six goals and 10 assists, and Natalie Mohlar has six goals.

“We have different people that are scoring a lot,” Magnussen said. “We have a veteran team. Now, it’s like our whole starting lineup is juniors and seniors, where in the past years, it was two or three freshmen (in the lineup) and two or three sophomores. Now, we’re just an older group. I think they’ve found more hunger. I think they’re just hungrier to dominate.”

 

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Winslow’s Andrew Poulin dribbles during a game against Waterville last year at Webber Field in Waterville. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

 

The Winslow boys are also off to a fast start. The Black Raiders are 6-0-0, and sit third in Class B North.

Winslow has been nearly perfect on the field, allowing just one goal (in a 7-1 victory over Belfast Sept. 10), while scoring 37.

“It’s definitely a good start, you can’t complain too much,” Winslow head coach Aaron Wolfe said. “I knew we were returning a lot of players — even though last year wasn’t really a real season — we definitely had a lot of returning players. Preseason went really well. We definitely challenged ourselves with some real tough southern schools and we did really well. I was expecting us to be in the mix, but yeah, I can’t complain too much so far.”

Wolfe credited a balanced scoring attack as a key to the early season success. Landen Gillis and Andrew Poulin have been two offensive leaders on the attack, as well as Thorn Dubois, Joey Richards and Sam Schmidt.

“I think the biggest thing has been getting contributions from a lot of different players,” Wolfe said. “We’re not just relying on one or two guys to do everything and just pile up the stats. It’s been pretty consistent in getting a few different players every game that have been putting a goal in (the net), a few assists here. We definitely have very balanced scoring, so that’s making it easier to put goals in. We’re not always trying to find one or two players to do all the heavy lifting.”

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