The Crusaders enter the harvest break with a 6-3 record including an eye-opening 7-1 loss to Washburn that coach Jay Edgecomb hopes will serve as added motivation when they return from break in the first week of October to play their final five regular-season games.
“That was a big wakeup call for us. We’ve gone 4-1 since then,” said Edgecomb. “I can live with a loss to a Class C school if we play well. But losing 7-1 to a Class D school is unacceptable, although Washburn is a good team. They’re much improved. But we played poorly.”
Washburn is 9-0 and atop the EM Class D Heal Points. Their other two losses have come to Fort Fairfield (2-1), which is second in the D standings, and Fort Kent (3-1), which is atop the C standings.
The Crusaders have also beaten Fort Fairfield (3-1) and Fort Kent (5-2) and they still have a date with Washburn after the break.
With eight starters and another part-time starter returning off last year’s 12-5-1 team, Edgecomb said a return to the state championship game is a realistic goal.
“This team is as good as last year’s, maybe even a little better,” said Edgecomb.
The Crusaders are led by sophomore Parise Rossignol, daughter of former University of Maine basketball guard Matt Rossignol.
Parise Rossignol was an All-Eastern Maine (all classes) selection a year ago and was also an All-Eastern Maine Class D choice along with goalie Ashlie Wilson.
Rossignol scored 27 goals last season and she already has 23 this season.
“She also has eight assists and she didn’t have many assists last year,” said Edgecomb.
“She is certainly better in the air so that means she’ll get more touches,” said Edgecomb. “She has put on 15 pounds of muscle and that has helped out a little bit.”
The Crusaders have been bolstered by the return of senior sweeper Brittany Duprey, who missed six games due to injury.
While she was recuperating, freshman Amanda Sytulek filled in for her and, according to Edgecomb, did such a good job that he now has the luxury of playing Duprey at striker. Duprey has two goals and two assists in three games.
“Amanda has consistently made good decisions,” said Edgecomb.
Junior wing Chantal Rioux, who takes most of the corner kicks, has two goals and seven assists and senior center half Haley Lizotte has three goals and four assists. Senior stopper and marking back Natasha Bourgoin has three goals and an assist to go with her defensive prowess..
“Natasha has always done an excellent job marking the other team’s best striker,” said Edgecomb.
Naomi Maldonado is a seasoned senior at right back and sophomore Nikki Lyons, a first-year player, and freshman Courtney Parent alternate at left back.
Sophomore Kayla Durette is the stopper.
The Crusaders have plenty of scoring options in the midfield and up front between Rossignol, Lizotte, Rioux, sophomore Erika Searles and freshman Felisha Bouchard.
“We’re capable of scoring a lot of goals,” said Edgecomb. “And having Ashlie in goal gives us the luxury on defense of moving more people up the field.”
Van Buren has held teams to two goals or less seven times but Edgecomb said when the Crusaders begin play after the harvest, “we have to make sure we shore up our defense a little.”
Van Buren will play Oct. 5 when the Crusaders take on rival Madawaska.