BANGOR, Maine — Dom Veilleux and Peter Gorczok are two athletic hard-nosed defenders with offensive capabilities who have played important roles in the Bangor High School boys soccer team’s undefeated (2-0-3) start.
Jacqueline Veilleux, Dom’s twin sister, is an energetic omnipresent attacking midfielder for the 5-0 Bangor girls soccer team and Marcus Downes is a speedy midfielder for the Brewer High School boys soccer team.
But they actually all attend Calvary Chapel School in Orrington.
The school had a girls soccer team last fall but didn’t field a boys team due to lack of numbers.
On July 11, school administrators announced Calvary Chapel would be closing.
Four days later, an anonymous donor gave them a $100,000 gift which enabled the school to stay open for this year.
With just 63 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, they aren’t able to field any sports teams, so they left the Maine Principals’ Association.
Dick Durost, the MPA’s executive director, said the legislature passed a bill in the spring of 2011 that allowed students at a private school, which was no longer a member of the MPA, to play sports for the public high school in their town of residence.
Calvary Chapel principal Eric Meyerson alerted his students to that possibility in July and these four have taken advantage of the opportunity.
And they have made a remarkable transition from Class D soccer to Class A.
Senior center back Dom Veilleux was named one of the captains at Bangor High School after just two weeks with his new team. Fellow senior Gorczok starts at left back.
Jacqueline Veilleux has been outstanding on Bangor’s defending Class A state championship team and scored her first goal in Thursday’s 6-1 win over previously undefeated Hampden Academy.
And sophomore Downes has been seeing significant minutes for the Witches.
The Veilleux twins live in Bangor; Gorczok lives in Orrington but since Orrington doesn’t have a high school, he had his choice of schools. Downes lives in Brewer and his uncle is Brewer head football coach Don Farnham.
The quartet is grateful to Meyerson for alerting them to the opportunity.
“I was real excited. I couldn’t wait to try out,” said Dom Veilleux. “Not being able to play last fall left a tremendous void for Peter and me.”
However, before they could try out, they had to meet the academic requirements at Bangor and Brewer and receive approval from the respective principals: Bangor’s Paul Butler and Brewer’s David Wall.
Both gave their approval.
Meyerson is elated that the players are able to pursue the sport and have success at the Class A level.
“We’re very proud of them,” he said. “And the way they were accepted by the coaches and players at Bangor and Brewer is a huge thing and says a lot about the types of team players they have.”
The quartet acknowledged there was a major adjustment involved with going from Class D to Class A soccer but they thoroughly enjoy the challenge.
“I love it,” said Jacqueline Veilleux. “It’s great. There’s way more competition. Just being able to play with real good players has been a lot of fun.”
Jacqueline Veilleux admitted that she was a “little nervous” during the tryouts.
“It was a little intimidating. We never had tryouts in Class D,” explained Jacqueline. “I didn’t know if I was going to make it or not.”
But Veilleux said the fact she was accepted by her new teammates allowed her to relax and play up to her potential.
“I know if I mess up, they have my back,” said Veilleux, who was approaching the 100-goal mark in her career at Calvary Chapel.
Bangor coach Joe Johnson and her Bangor teammates have been impressed with her both on the field and off the field.
“She’s a great kid. It has been a perfect fit,” said Johnson. “She is the type of person who is real easy to accept.
“She has a lot of energy. We haven’t had someone pursue the ball as relentlessly as she does in a long time. She gives you everything she has,” said Johnson.
“She fits in really well,” said senior defender Denae Johnson. “We all love her. She’s a strong player. She wins every ball.”
Veilleux said she gets more comfortable with every game and noted that the biggest adjustment is the level of intensity.
“Everybody really wants to win. They’re the state champs,” said Veilleux. “The speed of the game is much faster.”
Dom, a minute older than his twin sister, agreed with her assessment.
“It’s more serious and the speed, physical play and all-around level of play is much higher,” said Dom Veilleux who has made the adjustment from an attacking player to a defender.
“I really like the change. I like the challenge back there,” said Dom Veilleux.
“The quality of players is the biggest adjustment,” said Gorczok. “Everybody plays fast and you have to adjust to that.”
The players said they enjoy their coaches as well as their teammates.
Dom Veilleux said he was overwhelmed to be named one of the five captains.
“I feel very blessed,” said Dom Veilleux. “I never expected them to choose me captain after being with them for just a few weeks.”
“He stood out as a leader and took control even though he didn’t know anyone here,” observed Bangor senior midfielder and captain Chapin Frost.
“They’re the type of people you want to have in your program,” said Bangor coach Dave Patterson. “I am full of admiration for their willingness to try out, their enjoyment of the game and desire to play. They’re mature and they’ve played vital roles in our success so far.”
Dom Veilleux and Gorczok also have good attack instincts, as both were involved offensively on Calvary Chapel’s Eastern Maine Class D runner-up team in 2010. Patterson considers Gorczok’s strong left foot as a weapon and encourages him to get involved in the attack from his left back slot.
Brewer coach Ben Poland said Downes has adapted well.
He had never played high school soccer until this year because they didn’t have a team his freshman year.
“He’s adjusted well. The guys have really taken to him and he has really taken to the team.”
“He’s a valuable asset to our team,” said Brewer senior back Chris Worden. “He can run. He’s really fast.”
“I didn’t decide to try out until the day before tryouts but I’m glad I did,” said Downes. “I’m enjoying every second of it. The players have accepted me. They’ve been great.”
Their move to Class A could also provide dividends in the future.
“I’ve always wanted to play college soccer and I know if I played [my entire career] at a Class D school, my chances would be pretty slim. This gives me a better opportunity to play in college and that would be a dream come true,” said Dom Veilleux.