The Husson College women’s soccer team will be gunning for its third consecutive North Atlantic Conference Tournament championship and NCAA Division III Tournament berth.
The Husson men’s soccer team would like to annex a NAC title after falling a goal short a year ago.
The Husson women captured last year’s title without 2006 NAC Player of the Year Shelby (Pickering) Bradford, who broke a bone in her foot and missed all but one game. Bradford had 27 goals and 11 assists in her first season at Husson after transferring from the University of Maine.
Bradford is healthy again and the Eagles graduated just one starter off their 14-6-1 team.
Samantha Homer, who saw limited service due to an ankle injury, is also healthy again and has scored seven goals in three games, all wins.
Bradford has three goals.
Homer had 10 & 5 two years ago but slipped to 4 & 1 due to the ankle problem last fall.
Husson returns five All-NAC players and a NAC Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Van Buren striker/back Megan LaJoie, the team’s leading scorer (13 & 6) last fall; defender Caitlyn Butterfield (5 & 1) of Gorham and goalkeeper Tatyana Wolterbeek (0.90 goals-against average, .849 save percentage) of Wells were All-NAC first-team picks while Brunswick’s Megan Clement (10 & 6) was a second-team selection along with Amy Sanz (7 & 5).
LaJoie, Clement and Butterfield were freshmen; Sanz was a sophomore and Wolterbeek was a junior last year.
Belfast’s Katie Nickerson (6 & 7) was the tourney MVP.
“We have pretty high ambitions. We have a lot of potential,” 11th-year Husson coach Keith Bosley said. “But the players know they have to work hard to realize it.”
Striker LaJoie has been moved to the back line “to give us more speed back there.” She joins Butterfield and Presque Isle sophomore Jana Clukey. Freshman Katelyn Cloutier will also see plenty of service.
Sanz, Presque Isle junior Kylan Smith (2 & 2), Hampden sophomore Michelle Manning (4 & 1) and senior Laurie Melen (2 & 1) patrol the midfield.
Bradford, Nickerson, Homer, Clement and Cloutier provide the Eagles with a deep and dangerous list of strikers.
“We’re stronger than we’ve ever been [offensively],” said Homer.
“We have an incredible offensive team. We have players who can play anywhere. Our defense is strong. And we have an incredible recruiting class,” said Wolterbeek.
“We’re extremely deep,” said Bradford. “We have two forwards playing defense. We have a lot of speed in the back now.”
Homer said finally winning an NCAA tourney game is one of the goals.
“We need to win one. We have the talent,” said Homer.
The Husson men are still in the process of “creating an identity,” according to third-year coach Seth Brown.
Husson overcame an 0-5-1 start to go 10-10-1 and reach the conference final where the Eagles lost to Castleton State 2-1.
“We should be better than last year,” said senior midfielder Ross Bartlett, a first- team All-NAC selection a year ago after notching 7 & 2.
Brown returned virtually his entire team but he was quick to point out that “we’re still young” with three freshmen and two sophomores in the starting lineup.
Miguel Dominguez, a sophomore who was the NAC’s co-Rookie of the Year, returns in goal. He had a 1.95 GAA and a .732 save percentage a year ago.
Senior Tim Mousette, Brunswick junior Justin Gauvin and Newburgh senior Billy Shannon provide experience and quality in the back and freshman twins Jacob and Josh Labonte from Winslow have been impressive on the outside.
Bartlett, sophomore Rob Cowart, senior Hiroshi Iwabuchi and former Hampden Academy star Nattapong Kongsuria man the midfield. Senior Kongsuria (4 & 1) was a second-team All-NAC pick.
Up front, Presque Isle’s Nathan Carter (7 & 3) is coming off a second-team All-NAC season with Greene senior Jeff Truchon (5 & 4) and Burnham junior Mark Trombley (3 & 6) also returning off productive campaigns.
Dexter sophomore Aaron Woodman, Van Buren freshman Alex Martin and Kittery freshman Tyler Metivier also supply scoring punch up front.
“Metivier has added a lot to our team,” said Bartlett. “He has an aspect most strikers don’t have: speed and the ability to beat people off the dribble.”
Husson is 1-3 but rallied from a 2-1 second-half deficit to beat St. Joseph’s 3-2 last weekend.
“We’re getting there. This is a process. It’s going to take time,” said Brown.