The Maine Sting and Maine Tide will be back next season as will their coaches, the husband-and-wife team of Jukka and Carmen Masalin.
That was the word from Cheryl Stokes, the president of the Atlantic Sports Group which brought the teams here.
The Sting, which plays in the National Premier Soccer League, went 3-2-3 after going 0-5-4 a year ago.
The Tide, a member of the Women’s Premier Soccer League, went 0-9-1 after going 4-6-2 last season.
“We were pretty happy with season two,” said Stokes. “We didn’t have the outcome on the women’s side we would have hoped for. But we knew it was a building year going in.
“The men went right down to the wire in the battle for a playoff spot. That’s a pretty good accomplishment for the second season and we’re looking to build on that for next year,” she said.
Stokes is pleased to have the Masalins returning to coach the teams, which feature mostly college-age players.
“That will bring continuity to the program,” she said.
According to Stokes, the off-field logistics went much better than a year ago.
The players were all set up with jobs and they were housed in Bangor much closer to their practice and playing fields.
Not all had jobs last year and some left. And most of them were housed in Orono, which complicated transportation issues since most didn’t have cars, and practices and games were held at Husson University’s Boucher Field in Bangor.
“Things were easier on the players so there was less stress on them for transportation and personal finances. They were centrally located so they could get anywhere pretty quick. We knew what to expect so it was a much smoother process. Things were better by leaps and bounds,” said Stokes.
“We wanted to be a good steward for the players. We wanted to send them back to their schools in good shape after having played at a high level. I think we accomplished that,” she said.
“It was great,” said Sting striker-midfielder Teja Barkman, who played his college soccer for Berry College (Ga.). “I wanted to see something different so I came up to Maine. I appreciate everything the Sting did for me.”
“It was a great experience,” said goalkeeper Colin O’Donnell, the starting goalkeeper at the University of New Hampshire. “We had a good team, the guys were great, I got a chance to meet some new people and I got good game experience against good competition. I was able to keep my skills going for the summer.”
Midfielder Pete McHugh said Masalin was a “great coach. I learned a lot from him and from the guys.”
The Sting and Tide wound up playing their home games at Hampden Academy after Husson officials expressed concern about the wear and tear on their field.
Stokes said her first order of business for next year is securing a home field by Oct. 1.
“We want to stay in the Bangor area because we’re a Bangor team,” she said. “Hampden would be a good option. I can’t thank them enough for helping us out this year.”
She has been pleased with the local support and the growth of their affiliations with soccer groups like Bangor Soccer, Black Bear United and the Terriers.
“We always said our mission is to grow the sport within the state. And we intend to be here for the long haul,” said Stokes.