September 18, 2018
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Strong start puts Camden Hills on quest for third straight Class A soccer state title

Larry Mahoney | BDN
Larry Mahoney | BDN
Sisters Kassie and Kaylyn Krul (left to right) have been two of the major reasons behind the success of the Class A North championship Camden Hills soccer team entering Saturday's state title game at Deering High School in Portland against Scarborough. The Krul sisters have enabled the Windjammers to control the midfield as Kassie triggers the attack and can both score and be a valuable playmaker with her passing skills while Kaylyn is a skillful defensive midfielder who can also create offense.
By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

The Camden Hills High School girls soccer team went 34-1-1 the past two seasons en route to back-to-back Class A state championships, but head coach Meredith Messer said this year’s team has the potential to be the best of the three.

The Windjammers have added three more wins to their remarkable run this season.

“The biggest thing with these players is their fitness level is beyond a typical high school [athlete]. We did a lot of running in the preseason. Being in shape makes a huge difference when you play against kids who aren’t in shape,” said Messer, who is in her 24th year as the head coach. “They’re all super ready to go. It’s hard to stay with us for 80 minutes.”

It is also extremely difficult to keep the Windjammers off the scoreboard.

Their three forwards, juniors Kristina Kelly and Ella Pierce, and senior Eliza Roy, combined for 73 goals a year ago. Kelly already has six this season to bring her school-record total to 77, and Roy has five.

Camden Hills has outscored its three opponents 19-4.

One of those wins was a 6-4 triumph over Bangor, the team the Windjammers have met in the last three Class A North finals.

Speedster Kelly, an All-American and All-Region 1 selection a year ago, was a 39-goal scorer, Roy had 20 and Pierce chipped in with 14.

“Kristina can change directions with the ball on her foot without slowing down. It’s so hard to defend that,” Messer said.

“We have some phenomenal finishers,” senior midfielder Kassie Krul said.

Roy is the center striker with Kelly and Piece on the flanks.

Fueling the front line is a dominant midfield featuring the Krul sisters, Kassie and junior Kaylyn, along with first-year starter Anya Babb-Brott, who is a sophomore.

All Region 1 choice Kassie Krul scored 10 goals last season with two coming in the 3-2 state final win over Scarborough. She is also a creative playmaker with terrific foot skills who is strong on the ball. Kaylyn, a former starting center back, is a tenacious defensive midfielder who can also contribute to the attack.

“Kassie is a very special player. She is so strong on the ball, and she can keep her balance now. And she has come into her own as a scorer,” Messer said.

“The creativity we utilize between the midfield and front line has been amazing,” Kelly said. “It can really change a game.”

The one area of concern for the Windjammers is at the center back spot where they lost Camryn Langille and four-year starter Claire Pierce to graduation.

Outside backs Grace Blackwell and Sarah Spizzuoco return, and both are seniors.

Senior striker Eve Gutheinz has been moved to one of the center back slots and has done a “nice job” making the transition, Messer said. Junior Emie Wood and sophomore Caroline Contento are vying for the other center back job.

“To lose two center backs, including a four-year starter, is hard,” Kassie Krul said. “Coach [Messer] has done a good job [focusing on] our defense in practice. In soccer, you can dominate the whole game, but, all of a sudden, the other team transitions quickly and gets an easy goal. It can be unfortunate, and that’s why we’re working to tighten up our back line.”

Messer, Kassie Krul and Kelly said one thing that will help the back line is the fact they are going up against their talented forward line in practice every day.

“There’s not a better front line. So they will take their lumps in practice but will be strong enough in games,” Messer said.

Kelly said Messer is trying to find the right combination at center back and feels “we will be solid back there by the end of the year.”

In goal, senior Izzy Lang has a wealth of experience, and the Windjammers also have plenty of depth.

Freshmen Ella Powers and Tessa Whitley can provide productive minutes at midfield-front line and in the back, respectively. Senior Ryan Hart and sophomore Marykate Pons are in the front line rotation. Sophomore forward-midfielder Lexi Heidorn and midfielder Kasey Wood, a junior, will be contributors once they return from injury.

Another vital ingredient to their success is the Dutch Soccer Academy club team which is run by Robbie and Tammy Krul, the parents of the Krul sisters. Virtually all of the Windjammers play together year-round for DSA.

Kassie Krul said there is “definitely” a lot of pressure on them because of their expectations.

But it comes with the territory.

“All of us want to win another state title, especially us seniors. We want to end on the highest note possible,” she said.

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