After playing in two straight Class C North championship games, then winning a state title in 2017, the Houlton High School girls soccer team missed out on a third regional final a year ago when it was upset by Fort Kent 1-0 in the semifinals.
Fort Kent went on to win the state title, giving Aroostook County back-to-back Class C state championships.
The Shiretowners and the Warriors play at 7 p.m. Friday, and the game could well be a preview of this year’s Class C North final — although teams such as Orono and Central High of Corinth will have a say.
Marina Cameron, a former All-Penobscot Valley Conference and All-Eastern Maine Class C goalkeeper at Houlton, is in her first season as the head coach at her alma mater.
Cameron, who assisted Tim Tweedie last season, returned nine starters off last year’s 12-2-2 team and expects to contend for a state championship.
“We have a lot of the same talent. They play well together, and they move the ball well,” said the 24-year-old Cameron, who played two years at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish before graduating in 2017.
“We have a lot of potential,” senior sweeper Amelia Ivey said.
The Shiretowners, who have outscored their opponents 41-3, took a 5-0 record into a Wednesday game against Lee Academy.
They already have two noteworthy victories, a 4-0 triumph over Orono and a 9-1 victory over previously undefeated Calais. Those teams have a combined record of 10-1-3.
“We have had nine different goal scorers,” Cameron said.
The offensive catalysts are sophomore strikers Bre Barton and Samantha Johnson. Barton has scored 15 goals, already exceeding last year’s total.
“Bre and Sam are very fast and work well off each other,” Cameron said. “Bre sees the field well and is not only capable of scoring, she also passes the ball well and creates opportunities for other players.”
Senior Sierra Hoops is the headliner in the midfield as the attacking midfielder.
It was her pass that set up Kolleen Bouchard’s second-half game-winner in Houlton’s 1-0 win over Madison in the 2017 state title game.
“This team is very small but is a lot more tactical. We have more variety,” Hoops said. “We have a lot of players who can play anywhere on the field.”