BANGOR, Maine — It’s one of the youngest teams Brian Higgins has fielded during nearly four decades as the boys varsity soccer coach at Ellsworth High School — with the Eagles’ 21-player roster including nearly twice as many sophomores as seniors.
But any lack of experience has been overcome by tradition and talent so far this season, as evidenced in Ellsworth’s 3-0 victory over John Bapst on Wednesday afternoon at the Dorothea Dix complex.
The win was the fourth straight without a loss for the Eagles, who have outscored their opponents by a combined 14-1.
Josh Bean and Maks Grover, two of the five seniors on the roster, each scored a goal, while the third goal was generated by two of the team’s nine sophomores as Jack Weeks scored on an assist from Conor Maguire.
“We’re a definitely a young team,” said Bean, Ellsworth’s center midfielder. “It’s going to be hard, but the younger guys are learning quick and doing a great job of filling in for what we lost last year. They’re doing a very good job.”
But it’s a squad that also is not beyond experiencing growing pains, as Higgins said he witnessed against John Bapst in the aftermath of Ellsworth’s previous match, a 2-0 win over Old Town on Monday.
“We didn’t play that well, and part of that was because John Bapst played a very good game,” Higgins said. “They hustled and marked our guys very well. After the Old Town game we were excited about our future, but I don’t know if it’s this field — we never seem to play well here — but it’s probably more a credit to John Bapst.”
John Bapst (1-2) got a strong effort from senior goalie Adam Strang, who made 13 saves on 25 shots, and junior Phil Faulkingham, who was tasked with marking Bean.
“Overall, I thought we played very well coming off our 5-1 loss up at Caribou the other day when we didn’t have a defensive identity,” said John Bapst coach Sean Smith. “To come in against one of the best teams like Ellsworth, I thought we played well for the most part. We possessed well, moved it around and got some scoring chances.
“And Phil Faulkingham did a spectacular job marking Josh Bean. We put a game plan in and executed that game plan, but at this point of the season the better team won.”
Bean gave Ellsworth a 1-0 lead on a penalty kick 9:56 into the first half after John Bapst’s Josiah Simko was whistled for a hand ball in the penalty area.
The Eagles capitalized on another restart to extend their lead to 2-0 midway through the second half. Bean started the play with a throw-in from the right wing to the goal crease, where Maguire headed the ball over Strang and Weeks was waiting to kick the ball into the open net.
Grover capped off the scoring with 6:03 remaining, converting from close range amid a scramble in front of the goal.
Junior goalie Steven Mahon made one save on eight shots before being replaced by sophomore Brady White after suffering an injury to his left leg midway through the second half. White was not required to make a save.
“We went to Europe over the summer, and the coach there kept telling us to pass it around and pass it around and that’s what we’ve been working on,” said Bean. “They’re starting to pick it up, they’re starting to get used to it. We’re improving more and more each time out.”