Wildcats will need contributions from youngsters

Posted Aug. 10, 2009, at 10:35 p.m.

The Presque Isle girls soccer team will have to compensate for some hefty graduation losses this fall, but a year removed from a run to the school’s first regional title, coach Ralph Michaud’s glass is certainly half-full.

Although All-New England star Sarah Porter and All-State player Kayla Legassie have both graduated, that’s not to say the defending Eastern Maine Class B champs won’t be in the mix again this fall.

But the Wildcats will have to get contributions from a corps of youngsters, including sophomore midfielder Kayla Richards, who had outstanding freshman seasons on the soccer field and basketball court.

“She may be a sophomore by age but by talent and experience she’s older,” said Michaud. “Kayla played besides Sarah in the midfield last year, she’s very composed with the ball, very good with it in the air.”

Chelsea Nickerson will look to provide offensive punch along with Richards up front, and she possesses the ball well and has a booming shot.

“She’s talented she hits it well with both feet,” said Michaud, who claims that Nickerson is the best left-footed striker he’s ever seen.

While the Wildcats will be fairly young up front, they’ve got some valuable experience in the back.

Among the key returnees are Jodi Buckley, Brooke Long-Postell, Amy Girvois and Kelsey Park in goal.

With a number of seniors having graduated, Michaud has put a lot more emphasis on conditioning this year.

“We’ll have to be in shape this year,” said Michaud. “We’re in good shape.”

Presque Isle opened tryouts last week with 44 players, including nine freshmen.

“When you drop down from Class A to Class B you always worry about the numbers. We’ve never worried about that,” said Michaud.

The Wildcats will start playing regular-season games a little later than their Aroostook County counterparts — the team’s opener is September 2 against Class B foe Caribou — but they will host a round-robin at the end of this week with Fort Kent, Madawaska, Houlton, Caribou, Van Buren and Ashland all expected to play.

Michaud is hopeful, however, that someone will have a hole in their preseason schedule.

“We’re looking definitely for someone to play, we’re thinking of calling someone for a scrimmage,” he said.

Presque Isle rolled to the top seed in Class B last fall, defeating John Bapst of Bangor, Ellsworth and Winslow en route to the regional crown, but the road back to the top of the mountain will certainly be an arduous climb in what should be an open Class B field.

“To pick a PVC team that would be head and shoulders above everybody, I can’t do that right now. We’ll see how it plays out,” Michaud said.

He projects that along with Caribou, which has one of the region’s top goaltenders in Brittany Doak, that Old Town will be one of the tougher teams in the region, with junior star Katie DeShane leading the way.

Broncos move to B

The Eastern Maine Class B cross country ranks will have a new, but somewhat familiar look this fall, as Hampden Academy has dropped to Class B after competing in Class A from 2005-08.

Coach Dick Balentine’s team will remain in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.

Hampden has had numerous success in Class B in the past, with the girls claiming a state championship in 2003 and the boys a regional crown a year later.

The Broncos should be one of the favorites to contend for the regional title in the boys’ ranks this season, as the team placed a strong seventh among their Class A brethren at the state meet a year ago and returns one of the region’s top runners in junior Evan Piccirillo.

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