Maturity, mental toughness propel Bangor Soccer Club team to its first girls state title in 20 years
The Bangor Soccer Club started in 1993 as the contrivance of local parents who were simply trying to find other soccer opportunities for their children outside the realm of middle school and recreational soccer.
In the club’s 20 years, no BSC girls’ team ever discovered what it felt like to hoist a state championship trophy.
The club’s U-13 team changed that trend with when it captured the state title on Nov. 3 in Yarmouth in Soccer Maine’s Fall Classic League.
“Once they realized afterwards as a group that no one had ever done this, they were shocked by it,” head coach Andrew Varisco said. “Now they know they’re a piece of history for the city of Bangor and for this club. We’ve had many, many good teams but just haven’t been able to get that far. It’s really impressive to see them do this.
“At that age you never know if kids are coming [to practice], but they showed that determination from the very beginning of what they wanted,” he added. “We sat down at the beginning of the season as a group and asked them what their goal was this year: ‘Do you want to just have fun? Do you want to have a good season? Do you want to win?’ Every one of the girls said [they] wanted to get to the state championship and win it this year. And they did it.”
Varisco’s team cruised to a 5-1 victory in the championship over a previously unbeaten Gorham team that had bested Bangor in penalty kicks during the regular season.
“That’s one of the strengths of our team that we have. Every time that something has gone wrong, they’ve built on that and gotten better and better,” Varisco said.
Bangor’s U-13 boys team made it to the finals this season as well before falling to Cape Elizabeth.
Varisco, who is in his fourth year coaching for BSC, chalks up the difference between this year’s squad and past teams to maturity and mental toughness.
“Last year we were considered one of the better teams, and we didn’t even advance out of our bracket because we were inconsistent,” he said. “We could beat a team by five or six goals or we could lose against a team with lesser quality. They learned from that.”
BSC runs 10 teams, with a boys and girls squad for each age group: U-10, U-11, U-12, U-13 and U-14. Varisco says they don’t stress wins and losses early on, opting rather to work with their players on proper technique, teamwork and ball skills.
“We beat teams by playing smarter, moving the ball quickly, shifting and changing fields and playing a very balanced game. That makes a big difference,” he said.
Varisco said this year is one of the “most fun times I’ve ever had coaching soccer,” and gives a lot of the credit for this success to the girls’ commitment to the sport amidst all their other responsibilities.
“It’s tough because a lot of them play middle school soccer as well, being full-time students obviously, and then you throw in extra training for soccer,” he said. “It took a lot of dedication from them. I think that dedication and focus to listen to direction – they did a remarkable job.”
Team members include: forwards Elizabeth Speckhardt of Bangor, Varisco’s daughter Isabella, Oliviah Damboise of Old Town, Malorie Baines of Glenburn, Kiera Campbell of Bangor, Jacey Harriston of Old Town and Brooklynne White of Orono; midfielders Yvonne Barrowman of Bangor, Soleil Skehan of Hermon, Lily Morris of Bangor, Madeline Brookings of Bangor and Grace Martin of Bangor; defenders Miah Cassum of Bangor, Eliza Quinones of Bangor, Abigail Houghton of Bangor, Kathleen Greenlaw of Bangor and goalkeeper Alexis Lebreton of Bangor.
Varisco will stay with this team as it moves up to the U-14 level, and for him, the expectation for next season is nothing less than another state title.
“They want to have back-to-back with us. They want to be able to continue that,” he said. “They’re going to have to come out with that same mentality they had in the playoffs, because every team is going to give you their best game. If they can beat the defending champs, you will make their season right then and there.”
In addition to BSC’s girls U-13 squad, the other 2013 state champions include: Cumberland Soccer Club for U-12 girls and boys, Cape Elizabeth Soccer Club for U-13 boys, Sanford Springvale Soccer Academy for U-14 girls and Falmouth Youth Soccer Academy for U-14 boys.