Congratulations are in order for:
THE MAINE MARITIME ACADEMY football team. The resilient Mariners had to deal with the tragic death of 24-year-old assistant coach Richard Dykas II in a pickup truck accident 10 days ago, but they were able to still go out and beat Bridgewater State 35-13 Saturday. They had lost to Bridgewater State 40-14 a year ago.
There was certainly extra motivation to win for the memory of their deceased coach, but it had to be difficult, especially for the defensive backs, who Dykas coached. Football breeds a special kinship due to its grueling nature and the bond between players and coaches. To lose someone so young and so influential could have been devastating. MMA is now 7-1 overall, 5-1 in New England Football Conference play.
HANNAH BRETON and the University of Maine women’s soccer team for being the first sixth seed to ever reach the America East final. Maine will face a Boston University team on Saturday that has posted 12 straight shutouts, the fourth longest streak in NCAA history.
Greenville High School graduate Breton not only overcame overwhelming odds just to earn a Division I roster spot after playing Class D high school soccer, she has evolved into a productive striker for the Black Bears. She was second on the team in goals with four last year. Her goal beat Hartford 1-0 to supply the Bears with an Oct. 17 win they needed to qualify for the tournament, and she scored again against Hartford to give Maine another 1-0 triumph in the quarterfinals.
Breton, who purposely attended the University of Maine’s summer soccer camp between her junior and senior years of high school just so head coach Scott Atherley and assistant Jackie Gebhart could see her play, wasn’t afraid to set her goals high and work tirelessly to reach them.
“I like challenges,” said Breton, who has exceeded everyone’s expectations, including her own. “It has been a great experience.”
Junior striker Carolyne Nellis said Breton is “an inspiration to the whole team. We need players like that. She is so dedicated. She has worked hard every single second to get where she is. She brings us to another level because you want to make sure you work just as hard as she does.”
PAT LAUGHLIN and his Brown University Bears for their current 10-2-3 men’s soccer record and consistent presence in the national polls this fall. They were 13th a couple of weeks ago. Laughlin, in his first season as the head coach at Brown, is a University of Maine graduate and was the head coach of the Black Bears from 2006-2008.
He was en route to building the Black Bears into an America East title contender when the program was dropped due to financial constraints in the spring of 2009. His Bears went 5-10-2 in his last season, equaling the win total of the three previous years combined (5-41-3). His first win was a 1-0 overtime triumph over a Massachusetts team that went to the Final Four that year. That ended Maine’s 26-game winless streak (0-24-2).
Laughlin and assistant Trevor Singer would have had 21 returnees and nine incoming freshmen at Maine in 2009, but instead, they tirelessly and unselfishly found new colleges for their players. Hopefully, Laughlin’s team can make the NCAA Tourney and make a deep run in it.
THE WORLD CHAMPION San Francisco Giants and their assistant trainer and strength and conditioning coach, Ben Potenziano, a Piscataquis Community High School of Guilford, University of Maine-Farmington and University of Maine graduate.