STRONG — What beats a seven-on-seven soccer tournament for teams getting ready for the fall season?

For the participants of the Western Mountain 7v7 Summer Classic, the answer is camping. And at this particular tournament, hosted by Mt. Abram Regional High School, players get a little bit of both.

The tournament — the 13th of its kind — provides teams from throughout Maine to both work on skills and provide a bonding experience for teams before the mandated hands-off period — where coaches are not allowed to contact players — before the start of fall preseason camps.

“The camping aspect, a lot of teams love it, because of the team unity it brings in,” Mt. Abram boys soccer coach Darren Allen said.

“It’s a super cool experience,” Skowhegan senior Maddy Thorndike said. “You get to play as a team, then you get to hang out as a team and wake up the next morning and do that again. I feel like it’s a good start to the season. You get to know each other better. It’s really cool.”

The tournament was first started by current Spruce Mountain athletic director Marc Keller, who was previously the Mt. Abram girls soccer coach.


“Marc Keller started this in about 2008, and he left around 2015,” Allen said. “I kind of took the reins from there. We expanded it a little bit, expanded the teams. The overnight has expanded and now has its own little following… We’ve got teams from all over. Eastport, Sanford is coming in, George Stevens Academy is here, Mt. Blue is here.”

Teams from multiple classes attended the tournament, including Gardiner, Leavitt (of Turner), Skowhegan, Rangeley, Buckfield, Ellsworth, Mountain Valley (of Rumford), Mount View (of Thorndike), Maranacook (of Readfield), Mt. Blue (of Farmington), Hall-Dale (of Farmingdale), Shead (of Eastport) and Central (of Corinth).

Rangeley goalie Nichole Lemay makes a save as Mount View’s Ilsa Petrak looks for the rebound in the Western Mountain 7v7 Soccer Classic on Friday at Mt. Abram High School in Strong. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“They do a great job,” Maranacook girls soccer coach Travis Magnusson said. “I think they usually have about 25 teams here, there’s 20 this year. (The setup) allows for more passing and more touch (in games). But the big thing, too, is just team building. They’re tenting, they’re around each other. That’s the big aspect I like about it.”

Play is broken up into a round-robin tournament on four different fields, starting from 2 p.m. and finishing at 9:40 p.m. The remaining teams finish out the tournament in single elimination play on Day 2.

“There’s two different brackets,” Allen said. “Coaches do their own self-assessment (of their team). We have a more competitive bracket with the stronger teams and the other bracket (involves) less stronger teams, (junior varsity) teams and smaller schools.”

With seven-on-seven games, teams are given opportunities to work on various skills that might automatically come from 11-on-11 games.


“It’s a good experience,” Mt. Abram sophomore Ash Rollins said. “It’s a lot of fun, gets you on there (on the field), work on the communication skills, you can focus on that.”

“It’s a really good tournament to get you outside and work on our technique and our passes which get you ready for the season, too,” Maranacook senior Addie Watson said.

Aside from the camping opportunity, a food truck, along with a concession table that included tournament merchandise were available. Proceeds from the tournament help both Mt. Abram soccer programs.

While both coaches and players enjoy the tournament experience, the chance to bond with teammates one final time before fall camp begins is the cherished aspect of the Summer Classic.

“It’s awesome,” said longtime Mt. Blue girls soccer coach Fred Conlogue, who will move over and coach the junior varsity team as his son, Zac Conlogue, takes over the varsity program in the fall. “We’ve come every year since it first started about 13 years ago. It’s just a great time. It brings your teams together and you get so much out of it.”

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