Wildcat teams, CA girls ready for Saturday’s state soccer games
Three local teams are excited for the opportunity to compete for state soccer titles Saturday. Both the Presque Isle girls and boys and the Central Aroostook girls captured regional championships Wednesday to earn their place in the state finals.
The Presque Isle girls, with a 14-1-2 overall record as the No. 1 seed in the North, will take on Cape Elizabeth, the top seed in the South at 17-0, in the Class B final to be played at 3 p.m. at Hampden Academy.
The Wildcats lost by a 9-0 margin to Yarmouth in the state championship last fall and PI coach Ralph Michaud said his team set a goal immediately to get back there again. The team went through plenty of adversity, but did just that.
“It was a crazy ride, including a devastating knee injury to our goalkeeper [Savannah Rodriguez] in the opening game, a surprising home loss to Fort Kent and having to play in snowstorms,” Michaud said. “You name it, we overcame it.”
The Wildcats boast a premier goal scorer in Madison Michaud, who has 36 this season and over 120 for her career. Presque Isle shut out its three playoff opponents (3-0 over Brewer, 1-0 over Medomak Valley and 2-0 over Winslow) and enters the match against Cape Elizabeth with six consecutive shutouts overall, but coach Michaud knows his team will have to be at its best against Cape Elizabeth.
“Cape is a very dominant team and it will take a complete team effort but our girls have inspired me as a coach and I believe in them,” Michaud said.
The Presque Isle boys’ team, with a 14-1-2 record and ranked second, will represent the North and will take on Freeport, also the No. 2 team out of the South region that brings in a 12-3-2 mark, at 5:30 p.m., also at Hampden Academy.
The Wildcats’ three postseason victories came against teams they had also defeated during the regular season. PI topped Old Town in the quarterfinals, 4-0, and Brewer in the semifinals, 6-0, before taking the North championship with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Washington Academy.
Now they get ready to take on Freeport, who got through a B South division usually dominated by Yarmouth, who was upset in the semifinals.
“Freeport is a very skilled and talented team,” Greaves said. “They play soccer year round and it shows when you watch them. They rarely make mistakes with the ball, they are athletic and organized.”
The South has defeated the North in the B state finals every year since 1993, so Greaves knows his team enters as heavy underdogs, but he likes the Wildcats’ makeup and said they will be ready to play.
“We have a group of guys who believe in themselves and each other, who have worked incredibly hard since day one, and have managed to do all the little things right that it takes to win a championship,” Greaves said. “We aren’t going to be intimidated and are going to give our best effort and maybe luck will be on our side and we can pull one more out.”
Presque Isle’s roster includes eight senior starters, including Maine Soccer Coaches Class B North all-stars Jonah Hudson and Zechariah Morse and goalkeeper Mason Young, who has recorded 10 shutouts. The defense has allowed just 10 goals all season, while several players have contributed to a balanced offensive attack.
The Central Aroostook girls are 16-0-1 and fresh off their first-ever regional championship. They play against South champion North Yarmouth Academy (13-3-1) in the Class D state final at 3 p.m. at McMann Field in Bath.
The Panthers shut out Bangor Christian in the quarterfinals by a 10-0 score and then bested Katahdin in the semifinals. Their biggest win in the postseason came in the regional finals against nemesis Ashland as CA had to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the final 25 minutes of regulation to win 4-3 in overtime.
“That game was obviously our biggest hurdle as we know each other very well and every game is back and forth,” said Panthers’ seventh-year coach, Joe Levesque, “but my kids played every game with the same emotion, regardless of the score.”
Central Aroostook has only one senior in Olivia Pelletier, but features good talent across the board. Sweeper back Libby Grass, a sophomore, has had a brilliant season in her first year as a defensive player. Junior midfielder Breann Bradbury is a playmaker in the center of the field and classmate Kate Levesque, the coach’s daughter, plays striker and scored all four goals against Ashland and has 107 for her career.
“I think North Yarmouth Academy plays the same style as we do and passes real well,” said coach Levesque. “The two things that concern me are the turf and the bus ride. If we can survive both, we should have a good game.”