Presque Isle’s Kayla Richards and Fort Kent’s Sam Carapellucci said capturing a second consecutive United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championship feels just as good as last year’s title.
University of Maine at Fort Kent has won four national titles in five years.
Juniors Richards and Carapellucci are the two Maine natives who started for coach Lucas Levesque’s Bengals, which beat Daemen College of New York 2-0 for the title Saturday in Charleston, West Virginia.
“It feels the same as last year. It’s amazing,” Carapellucci, the right fullback, said.
Richards, the outside right midfielder, said there is always a great sense of accomplishment “when you come out with the end result you’re looking for. It would have been disappointing not to win it.”
Levesque said Richards and Carapellucci played important roles in the team’s success.
“Kayla has been a great player for us. She’s rock solid. And a lot of times, our outside midfielders can be extremely dangerous on the attack because they beat the opposing backs down the flanks and cross the ball into the area where [Katherine] Ferland and [Yosselin] Berrueco finish the job,” Levesque said.
“And Sam has done very well. She was named to the all-tournament team. She’s athletic and strong and really tough to get around. She has shown an unbelievable amount of improvement in three years,” he added.
Richards, who had 5 goals and 2 assists, and Carapellucci, 2 assists, said going up against their talented teammates in practice is beneficial. They played against Quebec native Ferland, who scored 31 goals and 11 assists, and Californian Berrueco, who had 14 goals and 8 assists. They are the team’s junior strikers, although Berrueco is in her first year at UMFK.
Ferland was the USCAA Player of the Year and the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“It’s a lot tougher playing against the girls on our team. It makes you a lot better,” Richards said.
“When coach tells us to pick a partner in practice, [Ferland] and I partner up and that has really helped me,” Carapellucci said.
UMFK didn’t allow a goal in three playoff wins and Carapellucci said, “we’ve worked on our defensive shape all season. I’m glad to see it all come together.”
“We’re well-coached and we work hard together. We have a great group of girls, Richards said.
UMFK had 12 shutouts in 18 games (15-2-1).
Junior goalkeeper Michelle Delgadillo had 10 shutouts and an 0.65 goals-against average. Speedy newcomer Brook Wooldridge, a junior, was the other outside back along with Carapellucci and the center backs were sophomores Briana Mills and Emma Ashby.
Mills scored the game-winner in the title game with a long free kick.
Mills, Berrueco and Ferland were also chosen to the all-tourney team along with Carapellucci.
Sophomore Marie-Laurance Montagne, 5 goals and 8 assists, was the other flank midfielder along with Richards. Freshman Catherine Bruno, 7 goals and 2 assists, and senior Ariane Laberge Pelletier, 2 goals and 8 assists, were the central midfielders.
“[Bruno and Pelletier] are always moving. They’re really aggressive going to the ball. They’re tough to play against,” Levesque said.
Levesque called Ferland a “clinical finisher who can slice and dice and also hit a [well-placed] ball from 25 yards out.” He added that Berrueco has “tremendous footwork and is great in one-on-one situations.”
Leveque also said Etna’s Megan Perry, a reserve junior midfielder from Nokomis High of Newport who appeared in 11 games, was an exceptional team leader.