WASHBURN, Maine — It took awhile to get going, but the Central Aroostook girls and boys soccer teams cruised to easy shutout victories Friday afternoon.
The Panther girls won 9-0, while the boys prevailed by a 6-0 margin.
The matches against the Washburn Beavers served as the first regular season high school contests in the state. Central Aroostook and Washburn are among the Aroostook County schools that start early due to the three-week harvest recess they take beginning in mid-September.
Due mainly to some excellent goalkeeping by Washburn’s Trinity Saucier, in her first year at the position, the girls game was scoreless for the first 31 minutes. The Panthers then put in three goals in a 2-1/2 minute span, one apiece by Breann Bradbury, Kate Levesque and Liberty Fulton, and continued the strong offensive display with six more goals after intermission.
“We always have a slow start here because it’s game one, but we knew we’d have to just keep knocking,” CA coach Joe Levesque said. “We had the wind in our face and the sun in our eyes [in the first half], but I could see as we were going our conditioning started to take over, especially in the second half.”
Washburn had only 14 players suited up, which meant coach Marcie Barbarula had only three substitutes at her disposal, with only two available for much of the second half after one player left due to dehydration.
“Our lack of conditioning definitely caught up with us,” Barbarula said.
Central Aroostook owned a 40-10 advantage in shots. Levesque, a junior who has been the team’s leading scorer in each of her first two seasons, had a second-half hat trick and finished with four goals. Madison Ouellet and Kayla Martin also tallied goals for the Panthers. Another was credited to Washburn for an “own goal.”
Freshman Olivia Blackstone handled the goalkeeping chores for CA and gained the shutout. The Panther defense did a solid job on Washburn’s top offensive threats, sophomore Madison Miller and senior Kassie Farley, who netted 16 goals each last season but were held scoreless Friday.
In the boys game, the host Beavers put up a much improved showing after losing to CA in last year’s opener, 17-0. Washburn, which won only two games in 2017, trailed only 2-0 at halftime against the Panthers, which returns many players from the team that made it all the way to the Class D North title game last fall.
“Our defense played tough, especially in the first half, and limited their very good chances and blocked a lot of their shots,” said Washburn coach Ben Goodwin, noting that stopper Steven Nader, sweeper Aidan Churchill and wing back Jacob Maynard all had strong outings.
“I think we were a little slow to the ball, but I think we may have underestimated [Washburn],” Central Aroostook coach Wallace Endy said. “They are a different team this year. They are passing better and hustling and today I think they hustled a little more than us even though we controlled most of the game.”
Josh Thomas scored two goals and assisted on another, Hunter Wardwell put in a pair of goals and Hayden Kingsbury chipped in with a goal and an assist to lead the Panthers’ attack.
Samuel Rowe scored a late goal for CA, while Sam Brewer and Zach O’Leary contributed assists. The Panthers were without a pair of starters, Bryan Anthony and Ben Thomas, who were away on trips.
Beckham Vaughn was busy in goal for Washburn and made some nice saves to keep his team in contention for a half. Brayden Bradbury, the Panthers’ goalkeeper, faced very few shots in procuring the shutout.
“I thought we got a little lackadaisical with our defense in the second half and letting runs go through and not marking up,” Goodwin said, “but overall I was happy and it’s something to build on. We have three kids who start for me that have never played soccer before, so they are progressing very well in the short time I’ve had them.”
The Beavers’ girls and boys teams host another home game Tuesday, Aug. 14, taking on Fort Fairfield. The Panther squads are next in action Friday, Aug. 17, at Fort Fairfield.