The openers for the Women’s Premier Soccer League’s Maine Tide and the National Premier Soccer League’s Maine Sting are less than two weeks away and the players will be converging on Bangor this weekend to begin preparing for their second seasons.
Cheryl Stokes, president of the Atlantic Sports Group which brought the teams to Bangor last summer, said there will be an invitation-only tryout for women on Sunday to fill the final five Tide roster spots. The men’s roster is already complete.
“We’ll invite about 10 women,” said Stokes, who noted that the players have already attended prior tryouts.
She said instate players will comprise more than 50 percent of the 22-player rosters including returnees Jordon Meyers and Dylan George of the Sting and Shelby Bradford of the Tide.
Meyers will soon graduate from Bangor’s John Bapst High School; George is a former Bangor High star who plays at the University of New Hampshire and Bradford plays for Husson University in Bangor.
“It goes with our philosophy to grow the sport within the state,” said Stokes.
She said they have found jobs for all of the players. That was a problem last summer.
“We’re very excited about that,” said Stokes.
She also said the players will be living in apartments in Bangor rather than Orono, where most of them lived last summer.
“They’ll be closer to the fields,” said Stokes referring to the Boucher Field on the Husson campus in Bangor and the Fields4Kids indoor facility on the Beal College campus in Bangor and the Sports Arena field in Hermon.
Practices will be divided between Boucher Field and the Field4Kids facility, she said, and the games will be played at Boucher Field.
Free clinics for 4-8 year-olds will be held at the Sports Arena fields in Hermon and their sports camps for 9-18 year-olds, which will involve a fee, will be held at Field4Kids and somewhere in the Bar Harbor area.
There will be three camps at Field4Kids, including one coaches camp, and two in the Bar Harbor area.
“We’re way ahead of where we were at this time last year,” said Stokes. “We want this to be a positive experience for the players. We’re definitely on a good path for this season.”
The husband and wife team of Jukka and Carmen Masalin, assistant coaches at Hartwick College (N.Y.) will make their debuts as coaches of the respective teams and Stokes said they will have two-a-day practices for the first couple of weeks beginning Monday.
The Tide will open their 10-game schedule on the road against Bay State and the New England Mutiny on May 15-16 while the Sting will play their opener on the road against the Boston Aztecs on May 16.
The Sting will play eight regular season games.
The Tide’s home opener will be against Soccer Plus (Conn.) on May 30 at 3 p.m. while the Sting’s home opener will be on June 7 against Morris County at 4 p.m. The Tide will play the Milburn Magic at 6 p.m. as part of the June 7 doubleheader.