For University of Mary (N.D.) and Maine Tide soccer teammates Sami Axtman, Jessica Curl and Amy Tanaka, they have already conquered one of the foremost challenges of the summer: learning how to eat a lobster.
“I’d had lobster before, but I had never had to take it apart myself,” said Tanaka, a native of Pearl City, Hawaii. “I just stared at it for 10 minutes. Then they came around with the paper with the instructions on it.”
“It took us about 20 minutes to open it. It was so good,” said Axtman.
Axtman and Curl had never had lobster before. They are natives of Bismarck, North Dakota where the University of Mary is located. U-Mary is an NCAA Division II school that plays in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
All three are expected to important contributors for the Tide this summer.
The Tide will play their home opener against Soccer Plus (Conn.) on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Boucher Field in Bangor.
Their male counterparts, the Maine Sting, won’t play again until they team up with the Tide for a home doubleheader on June 7. The Sting will play Morris County at 2 p.m. with the Tide taking on the Milburn Magic at 4.
Curl, who spent two years at Southwest Minnesota State before transferring to the University of Mary and sitting out last season, and Tanaka are midfielders. Axtman is a back.
Tide coach Carmen Masalin said having the three of them come this far to play soccer “really shows their commitment. They were willing to give up their summers to play with us. It’s very exciting to have them.”
“They are very athletic and they can run all day. They’re willing to leave everything on the field which is great,” added Masalin. “They work very well off of each other and they also adapt very easily to whoever is around them.”
Curl and Axtman said there aren’t many opportunities to play summer soccer back home.
“I haven’t been able to play in the summer for two years,” said Curl. “It’s nice to be able to get touches on the ball and have a team to play on.”
“We weren’t going to have a team this summer because there weren’t enough 19-year-old girls in Bismarck that were able to play,” said Axtman. “So this is just a really good experience for me and a good chance for me to improve. And we’d never played on the east coast. We didn’t know what the soccer was going to be like.”
This is also Axtman’s first time living away from home.
“I’m from Bismarck and I’m going to college in Bismarck so this is my first real college experience. I enjoy it,” said Axtman, who had a goal in 18 games as a freshman at U-Mary this past fall. “It’s really fun. All the girls are awesome.”
“It has been a really good experience, especially getting out of North Dakota and playing somewhere else where the soccer is a little different,” said Curl, a former all-NSIC honorable mention at Southwest Minnesota State.
Tanaka could have returned to Hawaii to play but liked the idea of playing with her U-Mary teammates.
She also wanted to continue her evolution into an attacking player.
“I had played defense my whole career but this past year, coach [Levi Evans] made me play offense. So I wanted to learn more about offense and to get better at it,” said Tanaka, who had eight goals and three assists at U-Mary and was chosen the NSIC’s newcomer of the year and an all-conference second teamer.
The women work as landscapers in the Bar Harbor area and said they’re enjoying their jobs as it keeps them in good shape and they get to work near the ocean.
The Tide opened with a pair of losses two weekends ago after just four days of practice together, but the women said the team has shown noticeable improvement since then and they are looking forward to Saturday’s home opener.