WASHBURN, Maine — Washburn High School junior striker Mackenzie Worcester said the 2-1 loss to Richmond in last year’s state Class D schoolgirl soccer game still hurts.
It was the Beavers’ first-ever appearance in a state girls soccer final.
The game was tied 1-1 after regulation and two overtimes so it was decided by penalty kicks and Richmond converted three penalty kicks to Washburn’s one.
“It’s always in the back of our minds,” said Worcester. “A lot of us went to the Dutch Soccer Academy this summer [at the University of Maine-Presque Isle]. We did very well. Our passing improved a lot.
“We also worked a lot on penalty kicks,” added Worcester.
“That [loss] will forever be there [in our minds],” agreed senior midfielder Carmen Bragg. “Hopefully, we’ll be in that position again. And if it goes to penalty kicks, we’ll be better prepared.”
The Beavers could very well be there again this season.
After finishing at 15-2-1 a year ago, they took a 7-0 record into Monday’s game against Ashland.
They had outscored their opponents 53-6.
Center striker Worcester already has 20 goals while wingers Carsyn Koch and Joan Overman have 11 and 10, respectively.
Koch, a senior, has returned to the team after taking a year off to devote all of her time to cross-country. Several of the Beavers play soccer and run cross-country, but Koch wanted to concentrate on cross-country and went on to notch her third straight Class C cross-country title while also leading the Beavers to their first state crown.
Overman missed most of last season with a shoulder injury.
“They are way better than they were last year,” said Van Buren coach Jay Edgecomb, whose Crusaders dropped an 8-1 decision to Washburn. “They’ve got Koch and Overman back. They are solid all over the field and they’re fast. A lot of them also run cross-country and that keeps them in shape. They wear you down.
“They’re going to be tough to beat,” added Edgecomb.
“They have some speed up front. They can take it to you. And they have endurance,” said Fort Fairfield coach Kerrie Alley, whose team’s 5-1 loss to Washburn represented the Beavers’ closest game.
Fifth-year Washburn coach Marcie Barbarula lost three starters off last year’s team: goalie Rayah Saucier, striker Maegan Fitzpatrick and defender Olivia Doody.
But the other eight starters return along with Koch and Overman. And Barbarula fielded her first-ever junior varsity team last season and that gave the younger players valuable playing experience to bring into this season. They don’t have enough players for a JV team this season.
“It was very valuable. It kept girls interested. A lot of freshmen and sophomores got experience at the high school level and they meshed with the upperclassmen. It worked out very well,” said Barbarula.
They have also added some productive freshmen including talented midfielder Tori Koch, Carsyn’s sister.
“We are potentially better than last year. There are a lot of similarities,” said Barbarula. “We have quite a bit of speed up front and we also have a strong defense. Our backs have speed, too. And we have more depth.”
“Having Carsyn and Joan back is a big asset on the offensive end. We have a lot of people who can score,” said Bragg.
Worcester, Koch and Overman are complemented by a formidable and deep midfield led by central midfielder Bragg.
“Carmen Bragg controls the midfield for us. She’s dominant. She sees the field very well and will find the open person. She can also be a threat inside the 18,” said Barbarula who has junior Mikayla Churchill and sophomore Laina Mette flanking Bragg.
Bragg leads the team in assists, according to Barbarula.
Washburn has a seasoned and talented back line made up of junior sweeper Catelyn Coulombe, senior stopper Nicole Olson, senior outside back Kennedy Churchill and junior outside back Tyra Shaw.
Taylor Howe is the first-year goalkeeper after gaining some valuable experience with the junior-varsity team a year ago.
“Taylor has looked very good. She’s gaining confidence with every game,” said Barbarula.
Tori Koch and Emmy Churchill will headline the list of quality subs.
“They’re very good. They’re very quick,” said Barbarula.
Freshman Mariah Davis and sophomore Jessica Aube supply depth in the back; freshmen Makenzie Vaughn and Kristen Sarmiento, sophomore Mariah Campbell and junior Stacy Landry will provide help in the midfield and senior Caitlyn Roix and sophomore Brooklyn Plummer will see duty up front, as will sophomore Brittany Corey, who is currently injured.