Several central Maine boys soccer teams made strong strides during the 2022 fall season.
Winslow, which won its third regional title last year, made it back to the Class B North title game, despite the fact that the Black Raiders entered the season with 19 players and fought with injuries and illness throughout. At one point, the Black Raiders had just one available sub for a game during the regular season.
“It was definitely a great season,” Winslow head coach Aaron Wolfe said. “As I told the boys, if you’re in the playoffs, every team is going to lose and not be happy with how the season ends, unless you win states. More often than not, that’s what is going to happen to every team. But, other than (the regional final), the rest of the season was a success and, even in losing that game, the season was a success. I don’t think we were expected to go that far and have the season we had. We overachieved, I think, this year. That’s always fun to see. I was really, really proud of how we played this year.”
At the heart of Winslow’s success was senior forward Andrew Poulin, who scored 50 goals on the season, just two shy of the state record. Poulin was named the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B North Player of the Year. Joey Richards and Jason Reynolds also earned KVAC B North all-conference selections.
The Black Raiders finished with a 15-1-1 record, falling 2-0 to John Bapst in the regional final. Wolfe said despite the ending to the season, it was one of the more memorable seasons of his tenure at Winslow.
“It’s a different (kind of season), but I would agree it was one of the more memorable seasons and one of the more — not just because it’s the present one — but it was a little more special because of that, when you’ re not expected to,” Wolfe said.
In Class B South, Gardiner finished 10-6-1 and reached the semifinal round before falling 2-0 to No. 1 seed Cape Elizabeth. The Tigers, who at one point had a five match win streak, managed to overcome some late struggles in the regular season to make their move in the playoffs.
“I thought we had a great season,” Gardiner head coach Nick Wallace said. “Definitely a challenging one. We definitely had our ups and downs… The playoffs started and I think we played pretty well, over a tough Gray-New Gloucester team, we had Erskine for the third time (during the season). That’s always hard to play one of your rivals for a third time. And of course, we go down to Cape. We battled really hard for 80 minutes. They score two goals on corner kicks. But for me, I (was proud of) the resilience of it all. This year, we had a lot of guys struggle. And we had other guys around them, whoever it might be, pick them up and say, ‘Okay, it’s not your day, it’s our day, we’ll take care of you.’ We had 13 (different) goal scorers, 10 different guys with assists. It was definitely a very big team effort this year.”
Gardiner was led by the play of Casey Paul, the KVAC B South Player of the Year, as well as KVAC B South selection Patrick Mansir.
In Class C South, Mt. Abram had one of the most successful seasons in program history. The Roadrunners finished 15-2-0, including a 14-game winning streak and 13 shutouts.
“I was ecstatic, was completely happy with kids in their roles and how they performed,” Mt. Abram head coach Darren Allen said. “We had an early season let down, I guess that was our wakeup call, (a 2-0 loss) against Lisbon. We took things a little for granted and things didn’t go our way. After that, they went, ‘Listen, we need to really buckle down and take care of business.’ They did that, the boys did that very well and I’m extremely happy with how the season progressed.”
Mt. Abram reached the Class C South regional final before falling 3-0 to eventual Class C champion Waynflete.
Morgan Thibodeau was named the Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year for the Roadrunners, while Kaden Pillsbury, Payton Mitchell and Tucker Plouffe earned MVC first-team honors. Thibodeau will be among the returnees for Mt. Abram, which graduates five players.
“We’re bringing back a lot of the same players,” Allen said. “The entire defense is gone, except for a couple of kids. And then we lose Kaden Pillsbury, our top assist guy. But the team is pretty much intact for next year.”
In Class C North, Maine Central Institute finished 13-4-0, including a seven-game winning streak early in the season. The Huskies reached the semifinal round before dropping 5-2 to Washington Academy. Zane Dean and Carter Bubar were named KVAC B North selections.
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