The Orono High School girls soccer team did not reach the state finals for the first time in three years last fall. They lost to Fort Kent 1-0 in penalty kicks in their Eastern Maine Class C championship game in Fort Kent.
That stinging loss is serving as extra motivation this season as the Riots hope to return to the state championship game with the opportunity to annex their first state crown.
Orono lost to Georges Valley of Thomaston 1-0 in the 2009 state final after dropping a 4-1 decision to Waynflete of Portland in the 2008 title game.
The Riots are off to a good start as they followed a season-opening 4-1 loss to Class B Hermon with a 9-0 win over Dexter, an 11-1 triumph over Searsport and a 7-0 victory over Bucksport.
“The states is our number one goal,” said Orono senior defender Kate Berry. “This is the best Orono team I’ve played on. We’ve had some freshmen come in this year who are playing like veterans out there.”
“We have a lot of young players, but they’re all very talented. I think we can go really far if we all work together,” said senior defender Laura Triandafillou. “We can make it to the states if we fight really hard for it.”
“We have a lot of potential,” said senior Caleigh Paul, who was an All-Eastern Maine selection (including all classes) last fall. “All these girls work real hard. If we all work together, we can really make things happen.”
Cid Dyjak, who is in his 29th season as the head coach at Orono, likes what he has seen from his team so far.
“We have an interesting mix of young and veteran players,” said Dyjak. “It makes for good team chemistry and I’m really happy about that. It’s a very good group of kids. They’re very coachable and very unselfish in the way they share the ball.”
“When they’re playing good soccer, it’s very exciting. They’re fun to watch,” Dyjak added.
The Riots have a lot of skill and speed and they attack with numbers. Goal scoring appears to be a strength.
“It looks that way,” conceded Dyjak. “Hanna (Renedo) and Analies (Ross-Dyjak) can score and Diana (Tyutyunnyk) can score. We have some pretty talented midfielders as well. Theresa Huelk is an AFS student from Germany. She is a very, very good player. She can strike the ball pretty well. And we also have our backs overlap (to get involved in the attack), which is one of our strengths. We have Kayla Marquis on the left (back) and Laura Triandafillou on the right (who like to overlap).”
And Paul is a special player in the back, according to Dyjak.
“She is so soccer-intelligent,” said Dyjak. “She really plays very, very well in the back. She waits, she’s patient, she tackles at the right time and she is a great header of the ball.”
Ross-Dyjak, a junior and Dyjak’s daughter, and sophomore Renedo are the team’s leading scorers.
“Analies has eight goals and Renedo probably has five or six. But our scoring has been spread around. We have a bunch of girls with three,” said Dyjak.
The influential and highly skilled freshman Tyutyunnyk creates all kinds of problems for opposing defenders.
“She’s a wonderful player. She has terrific foot skills and quickness,” said Dyjak, who feels this could be one of his fastest teams.
“We have some really good strikers and they’re just going to continue to develop as the year goes along. We’ve really focused on that,” said Triandafillou.
Junior Chloe Douglass and sophomore Elea Kass are productive players. Douglass is listed as a striker-midfielder while Kass can play defense or midfield. Freshman midfielder Lilly Koffman and sophomore striker-midfielder Kate Fergusson have given them quality minutes off the bench.
The Riots do have a first-year goalie in senior Taylor Gray, who has benefited from a veteran defense corps.
“I’m really impressed with our defense. They’re amazing. They make my job really easy for me. I don’t see a lot of shots,” said Gray, who can also play in the midfield.
The Riots, who are 43-8-6 over the past three-plus seasons, return to action with a Thursday game at George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill.
BELFAST IN STRONG START
Allen Holmes is in his 39th season coaching the Belfast High School field hockey team and his team is off to a 4-0-1 start, including a season-opening 1-1 tie with defending state Class B champion Nokomis of Newport.
“I’ve got a real good group of girls. They aren’t flashy but they play well together and they pass well,” said Holmes. “Hopefully, we’ll continue to improve.”
The Lions have been stingy, allowing just five goals in five games.
And he said there are three good reasons for their defensive play: senior left midfielder Brooklyn Curry and goalkeepers Julia Ward and Sierra Wood.
Curry is a shutdown defensive midfielder who often marks the opponents’ most dangerous scorer.
“She should be All-State this year,” said Holmes, who also noted that Curry is one of his primary scoring threats on penalty corners.
The offense, which has produced 14 goals, features twins Kari and Kristi Osgood, Maddy Cummings and Lexi Nelligan. The Osgoods are seniors, Nelligan is a junior and Cummings is a sophomore.
Belfast hosts Erskine Academy of South China on Thursday.
DEXTER’S GUSTIN IMPRESSES
Gina Schuck has been the field hockey coach at John Bapst High School for 15 years and she said the performance turned in by Dexter High School goalkeeper Maicee Gustin in shutting out her high-scoring Crusaders 4-0 on Tuesday was memorable.
“That was one of the best goalkeeping exhibitions I’ve ever seen,” said Schuck. “She played unbelievable. She was aggressive and had some of the best instincts I’ve ever seen.”
“We could have won the game 5-4 if it wasn’t for her,” added Schuck. “I never thought anybody would shut us out.”
The Crusaders, now 4-1, had scored 29 goals in their first four games.
Gustin finished with 12 saves on 16 shots.
Schuck said she was impressed with Gustin during their Friday night summer field hockey games at the University of Maine in Orono.
“She can play in college. I don’t know if she can play at the Division I level, but she could certainly play for a Division III school,” said Schuck.
Dexter is now 4-0 and hasn’t allowed a goal while scoring 22 goals.