Beavers, Panthers kick off soccer season
Washburn always hosts the first countable high school soccer game in the state. It has become a tradition during the Washburn August Festival, held annually during the second weekend of the month, and this year’s opponent for the Beavers, just like last year, is Central Aroostook.
The girls and boys game will be played simultaneously at the Washburn District High School soccer fields Friday beginning at 4 p.m.
The CA and Washburn teams began practicing in late July and start their season earlier than most other schools due to both having a lengthy harvest recess which begins Sept. 14 and runs through Oct. 8. Classes at Central Aroostook and Washburn begin Wednesday, Aug. 15.
Friday’s girls matchup is between teams that reached the quarterfinal round of last year’s Class D playoffs. The Panthers swept the Beavers during the regular season meetings, winning 4-2 in the opener in Washburn and 8-1 later in the season in Mars Hill.
Central Aroostook finished with a 9-5 regular season record in 2017 and lost five seniors who provided plenty of experience, according to coach Joe Levesque.
“This year we only have one senior so we are a bit young and consistency may be an issue early on this season,” Levesque said. “We do have a solid core coming back that should keep us competitive in most games, as long as we stay healthy.”
Junior Kate Levesque returns as the leading scorer, while Libby Grass and Brea Bradbury are other offensive threats.
Washburn coach Marcie Barbarula said her team is youthful with two freshmen and seven sophomores on the roster.
“We have been focusing on communication with one another on the field and in preseason practices and scrimmages the team is gelling very well,” Barbarula said. “The younger players are adjusting as they step into positions they might not have played before and the six seniors have stepped up and are taking on various leadership roles.”
The Beavers, who went 7-5-2 a year ago, boast their two leading scorers from last year in sophomore Madison Miller and senior Kassie Farley.
Levesque said Washburn will be a formidable foe with its ability to score goals, while Barbarula has plenty of respect for the Panthers and their quickness.
The boys game will pit a Central Aroostook squad that made it all the way to the regional finals last year and a Washburn squad that was able to win just two games all season. The Panthers owned the two regular season matchups, winning by scores of 17-0 and 8-1.
CA coach Wallace Endy said his team has been working hard in the heat during practice sessions that past couple of weeks and believes they are ready for competition.
“We are healthy and return a great core group of players,” he said. “I hope to win games and continue to improve.”
The Panthers, who went 13-1 last regular season and fell to Bangor Christian in the D North title game by a 1-0 score, have scoring threats in Hunter Wardwell, Ben Thomas and Hayden Kingsbury and tough defenders in Lane Grass and Hardin Kearney in front of an excellent goalkeeper in Brayden Bradbury.
Washburn, under veteran coach Ben Goodwin, hopes to improve on last year’s 2-12 record and put themselves in position to get back into the playoffs after missing out in 2017. Steven Nader, Colby Hewitt and Aidan Churchill are the leaders for the Beavers.
Washburn will host Fort Fairfield in the next regular season game on Aug. 14, while the Panthers resume their schedule on Aug. 17 at Fort Fairfield.