The rosters have changed, but the winning ways have continued for the defending Eastern Maine Class B champion Presque Isle boys and girls soccer teams this season.
The Presque Isle boys are 3-0-2 after Tuesday’s scoreless tie with Caribou, while the girls squad is 5-0 and enjoying a weeklong break after playing five matches in eight days.
“We’re completely different from last year,” said Presque Isle boys soccer coach Scott Young. “We have five starters back from last year, but two are playing different positions. It’s really like we have just three starters back in the same position from last year.”
The Wildcats have seven seniors, a group that includes captains Nate Ackerson, Dillon Kingsbury, Matt Chasse and Nathaniel Postell.
“They’re clearly our best players, and they’re doing a good job of leading,” said Young of his captains.
Juniors Josh Allen and Brandon Bonville also have been key contributors, while the Wildcats also are receiving production from some younger players, including a seven-member sophomore class led by Wilder York, Isaac Lajoie, Riley Norton and Jacob Player.
“We graduated some good players and it’s been a learning process for everyone, including some people learning new positions, but we’re all doing well and working hard,” said Ackerson.
Since their 6-0 win over Bucksport in the season opener, the Wildcats have been challenged in each game — with a 3-2 win over Mount Desert Island and a 2-1 victory over Fort Kent leading up to back-to-back ties with Ellsworth and Caribou.
“It’s a very, very different team,” said Young. “I wouldn’t call us young, we have good senior leadership, but I think we still need some time to jell and figure out our roles. We’ve found our leadership in the last week, our captains have really done a good job.”
The Presque Isle girls team has gotten off to an even more explosive start, outscoring its first five foes 24-1. That’s despite the fact that much of the Wildcats’ offense from last year’s 16-2 run to the program’s first EM title has graduated.
“We have nine freshmen and sophomores,” said Presque Isle coach Ralph Michaud, “so to have those five games in eight days, we’re very pleased to have five wins under our belt.”
Fortunately for Michaud, several of his seven senior starters anchor a defense that posted four straight shutouts before yielding its first goal during Saturday’s 4-1 victory at Ellsworth. That group includes goalie Kelsey Park, sweeper Brooke Long-Postell and back Amy Grivois.
“I think it’s good having seniors on defense,” said Grivois. “We’re trying to help the younger players just play the game and keep our heads in it.”
Youth has served the Wildcats primarily on offense, where sophomore Kayla Richards is a returning starter and one of the key offensive threats.
“Kayla’s a sophomore but she doesn’t play like a sophomore,” said Michaud, “and last year as a freshman she didn’t play like a freshman. She plays like a senior, and that carries over to everybody else.”
Richards has teamed with senior Jenna Stephenson, sophomore Chelsea Nickerson and freshmen Chandler Guerrette and Karlee Bernier to help the Wildcats overcome the loss of both All-New England selection Sarah Porter and All-Maine choice Kayla Legassie to graduation.
“Everyone was saying, ‘oh, we lost so many players,’” said Long-Postell, “but really every single new person on this team has so much talent and it’s brought us right back up there.”