Adam Leach said he is enjoying his return to the soccer coaching ranks.
Leach, who compiled a 105-21-11 regular-season record as the boys coach at Bangor High School from 1999-2007 and led the Rams to the school’s first state Class A championship in soccer in 2006, is 2-0 as the head girls coach at Hermon High School with impressive wins over Orono (4-1) and Mount Desert Island (7-1).
“It was a nice break, but I missed it,” said the 40-year-old Leach. “It’s nice to have the opportunity to do something I love to do. It keeps me young.”
He employs a similar philosophy to the one he used so successfully at Bangor: ball possession.
“That’s the best way to play defense. Pass the ball and keep the ball away from the other team,” said Leach. “We have a bit of balance.”
He has a young team without much depth. There are only 20 players in the program, so he doesn’t have a JV team.
But he really likes his team and, if his key players can stay healthy, his goal is to “go deep into the playoffs.” The Hawks reached the semifinals a year ago for the first time in recent memory under coach Stori Shaw, who left to accept a teaching and coaching position at Central Aroostook High School in Mars Hill, her alma mater.
“There is a good corps of players back,” said Leach.
One of the catalysts for the Hawks is sophomore striker Kaitlin Saulter.
Saulter already has six goals in her team’s first two games.
“She has great skill. She has a head for the goal,” said Leach.
Two of the players who help set her up are central midfielders Jessica Allen and Claire Petersen, who Leach refers to as his “redheaded tandem.”
Allen is a junior and Petersen is a freshman.
“Jessica is a playmaker. She’s a great passer who sees the field well,” said Leach, who considers Petersen a similar type of playmaker.
Senior Nicole Turmel joins Saulter up front.
Headlining the fullback corps are a pair of sophomores: stopper Maddie Page and sweeper Amanda Allen.
Leach has been blessed with a veteran goalkeeper in senior Mikayla Treadwell.
“She’s solid,” said Leach. “She’s aggressive. She’s also a team motivator.”
He said his reserve players are “progressing.”
Leach is no stranger to coaching girls sports.
He coached the Hermon girls softball team in 2007 and 2008.
He returned to soccer with the Hermon girls on an interim basis in 2009 after coach Ben Poland was suspended. Leach coached the final six games.
In addition to coaching the Hermon girls, he is also a teacher at Bangor High School and is completing his doctoral degree from Liberty University.
Hermon hosts 2-0 Ellsworth on Thursday night at 6:30.
WATERVILLE GIRLS IN REBUILDING MODE
The Waterville High School girls soccer team has been a model of excellence over the last four years.
Behind 171-goal scorer Jordan Pellerin and standout center back Katy Massey, the Panthers went 61-6-3 and captured a state Class A championship in 2008.
But fifth-year head coach Ian Wilson said he will be rebuilding this year.
Waterville suffered an 8-0 setback to Bangor on Tuesday night after opening with a 5-0 win over Brewer.
There are only three seniors on the Panthers’ roster and five of the girls who started against the Rams were either sophomores (3) or freshmen (2).
“We’re going to have to be real patient with the kids,” said Wilson following Tuesday’s loss. “We’ve got a lot of coaching to do right now. We’ve got to make sure the kids don’t get down on themselves and that they stay positive.”
He also said he and his staff have to make sure “they get better in practice every day and put them in an environment in which they can compete and improve. We have to find ways to get them to see the bigger picture and see past today. And we will.”
“You don’t replace the players we lost overnight,” he added. “A large corps of our team is young and we just have to develop those players.”
He said he empathizes with his three senior tri-captains: Hannah Jabar, Lauren Massey and Abbie Webster.
“This is hard on our seniors. Realistically, this is a bridge year. We may have two bridge years. Our seniors have been to the top of the mountain and this is a pretty tough night for them,” said Wilson.
Jabar said they knew it was going to be a challenging year.
“We knew it was going to be a developmental year. We definitely lost a good group. When you lose somebody like Katy in the back, those are big shoes to fill. And Jordan was a big loss up front. We’re still trying to figure things out,” said Jabar. “We’re developing a lot of young players. We’ve got a lot of talented freshmen that we’re teaching how to play our game. We’ve got to develop them to replace some more people (in the future).
“We just have to keep working and keep figuring it out,” added Jabar.
Bangor coach Joe Johnson said he expects the Panthers to be “right in the thick of things at the end.
“Ian’s teams always get better as the year goes on,” said Johnson.