MADAWASKA, Maine — While most high school soccer teams statewide are less than two full weeks into their regular-season schedules, many programs in Aroostook County already have played nearly half of their matches — in some cases even more — due to the coming harvest recess.
That includes the Madawaska boys team, currently 7-0 and top ranked in Eastern Maine Class C heading into its showdown at home against rival Fort Kent on Wednesday night.
The Owls’ fast start includes a 4-1 win over defending Eastern Maine Class C champion Houlton back on Aug. 20 and a 2-0 win at Class B Caribou four days later.
“I was a little surprised when we beat Houlton because they’re the eastern Maine champs and they have a lot of guys back,” said Madawaska coach Dean Gendreau. “But we’ve played well in our big games.”
Madawaska has five starters back from its 2011 team that finished second in the final Heal Point ratings and reached the regional semifinals before dropping a 1-0 decision to Houlton.
But the Owls have a youthful roster that includes just three seniors — with just one fourth-year player having been part of last year’s squad.
Madawaska is led by junior striker Ian Lee, who already has 19 goals and eight assists.
“The kid’s unreal,” said Gendreau. “He’s a hard worker, and he’s marked every night. Every team we play marks him with one or two kids, either sandwiching him with two guys or having one guy follow him all over the field.
“But it’s like he’s playing at 25 miles an hour when everyone else is going 10, and not only does he lead the team in scoring he also leads us in assists, because he understands that he needs help from the other guys and they’re doing a good job working with him.”
His primary running mate up front is junior Jake Gendreau, who has three goals and six assists, while other key players in the Owls’ 3-4-3 formation include senior center halfback Aaron Thibeault, junior center halfback Sam Cyr and junior goalie Tim Deschenes.
Cyr is back with the team after leaving during harvest break last season to focus on hockey, and coach Gendreau said his return has helped provide the team more flexibility at the midfield and forward positions.
“Sam is really solid, he stabilizes us in the midfield,” said Gendreau. “He’ll make some runs offensively, but he’s really solid on defense.”
Deschenes saw considerable duty in goal as a freshman in 2010 after that year’s starter was injured, but he saw little varsity duty last fall.
Still, that earlier experience has helped Deschenes, and the rebuilt defense in front of him led by sophomore center fullback Luke Daigle, limit opponents to three goals in seven matches.
“I thought we’d be OK,” said Gendreau. “We just had to kind of put the pieces together.”
Wednesday’s 7 p.m. home match against Fort Kent — second ranked in Eastern C at 4-1-1 — likely represents Madawaska’s most significant challenge since its back-to-back wins over Houlton and Caribou.
“We’ll see where we are,” said Gendreau. “Fort Kent is always hardworking, feisty and quick on the wings, and they’re relatively young also, but they come at you hard for 80 minutes.
“We’ll see how much we really want it, because it’s a big game.”
Madawaska follows up its match against Fort Kent at home against Class D Van Buren on Friday before a nearly three-week break until its next match on Oct. 4 at Fort Kent. The final two weeks of that respite coincide with the school’s harvest recess.
High school Heisman process under way
Applications for the 19th annual Wendy’s High School Heisman Awards that honor outstanding student-athletes for their commitment to academic achievement, community service involvement and athletic prowess are now being accepted.
Eligible students may apply at www.WendysHeisman.com through Oct. 2 for a chance to win the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award. A partner award with college football’s Heisman Memorial Trophy, Wendy’s High School Heisman has received more than 350,000 applications and honored more than 216 national finalists and 36 national winners since its inception.
Each year, nearly 50,000 male and female scholar-athletes from across the country who embody leadership, academic excellence and athletic skill in their schools and volunteerism in their communities apply for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award. These applicants are then narrowed down in four phases: school winners, state finalists, state winners and 12 national finalists.
The six female and six male national finalists will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to attend the Wendy’s High School Heisman Awards ceremony and college Heisman Memorial Trophy Award presentation with their families in December.