BANGOR, Maine — It is a luxury to have a flip-thrower in soccer.
The flip-thrower runs forward with the ball, does a front somersault and uses momentum to flip the ball long distances.
The flip-throw can be more effective than a corner kick and is a great offensive weapon.
A corner kick usually has significant rotation. An in-swing kick is when the corner kick swings in toward the goal while an out-swing kick involves the ball rotating away from the goal.
But the flip-throw has less movement, making it easier to head the ball and control it.
The throws can also be useful to clear the ball out of a team’s own end.
Teams with a flip-thrower consider themselves fortunate. They aren’t prevalent, although there are a handful of teams that have one.
Then there’s the Ellsworth High School girls soccer team.
They have not only one, but two.
Senior Cristin Wright and sophomore Emily Berry can both unleash flip throw-ins, and a Wright throw-in led directly to the second goal by Katey Curtis in a 2-0 win over John Bapst of Bangor last Tuesday.
Curtis deposited the throw-in into the net with her knee.
“I learned how to do it before my sophomore year,” explained Wright. “I had been going to gymnastics since I was little. I saw other people doing the flip-throw and I thought I could do it. So I went outside with my dad and tried it.
“I started real slow. I started with a flat ball. Then we pumped it up as I got more comfortable with it,” she said.
She said her gymnastics background has been invaluable.
“You have to be aware of where your body is. Since I’ve taken gymnastics, I know where I am in the air. It’s not as much a matter of strength as it is coordination,” said Wright.
Berry also has a gymnastics background and agreed with Wright that being a gymnast is helpful.
“When I was in middle school, my coach told me to try it one time. I tried it because I had been in gymnastics before that,” said Berry, explaining that she understood the complexities of the technique required to execute a flip-throw.
The two players don’t work a lot on the flip-throw in practice.
“We run a few plays and stuff like that. I just try to put it in the six [goal area]. That’s what I’m aiming for and I hope somebody gets to it,” said Berry.
Wright concurred, but added that she tries to make sure she keeps it away from the goalkeeper.
In addition to a flip throw-in, Wright has the ability to launch traditional throw-ins a long distance.
“Ever since middle school, I was always called on to take throw-ins,” said Wright. “I’ve always had a strong throw. I think it’s from doing sports all the way up through.”
“It’s great for them to have two flip-throwers,” said John Bapst coach Jenn Plourde. “If one of them gets injured, they still have one more who can do it.”
“It’s useful,” said John Bapst senior midfielder Casey McGuire.
Ellsworth senior back Taylor White said having two flip-throwers is “very important.”
“It’s a big advantage for our team,” said White, who noted that it’s like being able to take a corner kick from anywhere on the field within a reasonable distance.
The flip-throws of Wright and Berry have contributed to Ellsworth’s 3-2 start under first-year head coach Katye Lacasse.
Blue Hill native Lacasse, who was the JV coach last year, said she “loves” coaching the Eagles.
“It’s a great team with a bunch of great girls,” she said. “They’re intelligent. They just need to keep improving.
“We can definitely hold our own. We could be a tough team to beat in the playoffs. We have a bunch a scrappers. That’s what I like about the team. We don’t give up on the ball and we know how to play off the ball,” said the 38-year-old Lacasse.
The Eagle girls enjoy playing for their new coach.
“It has been really good. She has gotten us in shape. She knows what she’s talking out,” said White.
Lacasse replaced 18-year head coach Jen Myers, who didn’t have her contract renewed by school administrators.
Meyers led Ellsworth to 11 playoff berths and two Eastern Maine championships.
Lacasse has coached both boys and girls teams and had previous stops at Marshwood High of Eliot, Deering High of Portland and George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill.