The Madawaska boys soccer team has been on the brink of another Eastern Maine title for several years.
This year a veteran Owls squad hopes to take that next step — or two.
Madawaska, 6-0 and top-ranked in Eastern C after Tuesday night’s 5-1 victory over Fort Kent, has reached the regional semifinals each of the last three years before being eliminated.
In 2010 the Owls were ousted by Orono, and for the last two years Houlton has provided the playoff frustration — with Houlton going on to win two EM C titles as well as the 2012 state championship.
Madawaska, meanwhile, has compiled a 40-10-2 record since the start of the 2010 season, including 31-4-2 during the last two-plus years. The Owls won their last EM crown in 2007.
This year’s squad starts all seniors and juniors, a contingent led by senior striker Ian Lee, who scored two goals in the win over Fort Kent to tie the state’s schoolboy soccer career scoring record of 107 goals set in 2011 by Bangor Christian’s Bradley Wilcox.
Lee — who will attempt to break that mark Friday when the Owls host Van Buren — has amassed 18 goals in his team’s first six games this year as Madawaska has outscored its opposition by a combined 38-3.
Lee teams up front with classmate Jake Gendreau, while seniors Sam Cyr and Travis Thibeault and juniors Randy Morneault, Ethan Wetmore and Alex Nadeau comprise the Owls’ five-man starting midfield corps.
Senior Sam Deschaine and juniors Tom Nadeau and Luc Daigle play defense in front of senior goalkeeper Tim Deschenes.
“These kids have a lot of experience playing together. We only lost one starter from last year’s team,” said third-year Madawaska head coach Dean Gendreau.
Tuesday’s clash with Fort Kent was the first of four contests remaining for Madawaska before it takes its annual two-week harvest break that begins Sept. 22.
The Owls then return to action on Oct. 10 at Limestone/Maine School of Science and Mathematics, the first of five matches during a 12-day stretch that includes additional road tests at Houlton, Fort Kent and Class B Caribou.
“The kids are hoping to get over the hump this year,” said coach Gendreau. “That’s the goal, and then to go from there.”
Houlton’s Bouchard not playing soccer
Kyle Bouchard, who helped Houlton High School win the Class C soccer state championship last year, is trying a new fall sport for the Shires.
Bouchard has joined the Houlton golf team, which is 1-1 this season with a 167-176 victory over Caribou and a 172-174 loss at Presque Isle.
The switch in sports will allow Bouchard to spend time after golf practices or matches in the evenings on individual workouts geared toward his primary sport, basketball.
“Last year during soccer I did lifting and individual workouts related to basketball,” said Bouchard. “Now my training focus is to get my legs to an elite level in terms of jumping and quickness.
“I have a new program this year that’s leg-specific, with specific rest and specific energy required, and I couldn’t do that and still play soccer because of the physical demands on your legs that come from soccer.”
Participation in golf also will help Bouchard realize another goal.
“The thing I want to do mostly is represent my school, and playing golf I can do that and do my workouts,” he said.
Bouchard earned Bangor Daily News All-Maine accolades as a sophomore last winter after leading coach Rob Moran’s club to the Eastern Maine Class C basketball final.
Bouchard averaged 19.2 points, 11.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists during the 2012-13 season for Houlton, which finished with a 19-2 record.
The 6-foot-5-inch forward also was part of a Maine Athletic Club AAU basketball team that went 10-4 during national tournament play in Florida this summer.
The MAC squad won the AAU Supershowcase silver bracket championship, then went 4-3 at the 17-and-under AAU national championships.
Since then the 16-year-old Bouchard reportedly has received two Division I college scholarship offers with still half of his high school basketball career remaining.
Bouchard was one of the state’s leading assist makers in soccer last fall, teaming with striker Jimmy Fitzpatrick to lead Houlton to its first Class C state title in that sport. Fitzpatrick, who graduated last spring, is now playing soccer at Husson University in Bangor.
TA football star sidelined
Thornton Academy of Saco’s bid for a second straight Class A football state championship suffered two serious jolts during its season opener last Friday night.
Not only did the Golden Trojans drop a 26-13 decision to South Portland, they lost their best player in the process.
Senior running back-defensive back Andrew Libby, the 2012 Maine Gatorade High School Football Player of the Year, went down with an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered while returning a kickoff during the first quarter and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Libby rushed for 1,091 yards and 23 touchdowns on 182 carries last fall while catching 17 passes for 190 yards and two TDs and returning four punts for touchdowns in leading Thornton Academy to a 11-1 record and its first state crown since 1988.
Libby also had 98 tackles, six pass interceptions — one he returned for a touchdown — and one forced fumble for the TA defense in 2012.