Owl soccer team looking for improvement

     PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The University of Maine at Presque Isle men’s soccer team has added nine new faces to a list of talented returners who look to improve on a 3-13-1 record from a year ago. The Owls, under 26th-year head coach Alan Gordon, return their returning leading goal scorer and AD3I All-Independent honorable mention honoree, sophomore Cody Blair of Ashland, who netted seven goals in 2015. Derek Healy, a senior from Hanover, Mass., is back as a top scoring threat, having scored five goals and collecting five assists and garnering AD3I All-Independent second team recognition.

     Joining Healy in receiving second team honors was midfielder Chris Daly, a junior from Kingfield. Also lending their experience to the offensive group is Brandon Fuller, a junior from St. Albans; Brandon Danforth, a sophomore from East Millinocket; Mohamud Abukar, a sophomore from Lewiston and Kyle Gilman, a sophomore from Danforth.

     The Owls will look to build their offensive attack with the addition of three freshmen — Matt Caron of Caribou, Evangelos Zarkadas of Portsmouth, N.H. and Hunter Milliard of Woodland.

     The defense will look to the leadership of three seniors — Sean Barbosa of Caribou, Dean Costello of Glenwood, N.Y. and Dan Swallow of Houlton, all of whom started and logged extensive minutes last year.

     Also returning after gaining valuable experience in 2015 are sophomores Jacob Lassonde of Merrill and Reed Derosier of West Enfield.

     Making his return to the field this season after being forced to take a year off due to health reasons is Mike Guerrette, a junior from Presque Isle, who played in 13 of the team’s 14 games in 2014, starting 11 of them.

     The program adds a number of freshmen to compete for positions in the defense this season, including Matt Curtis of Lamoine, Parker Thompson of Washburn, Nick Sinclair of Bradley, Alex Lewin of Masardis, Allen Stanback of Salem, N.J. and Chad Bartlett of Bradley.

     The Owls will look to a new face in the goal this season, and have two young men that are competing for the spot. Senior AJ Dolley of Whiting and junior Matthew Manter of Caribou both were strong during preseason workouts and give the Owls two good options.

     “I am confident that our returning players are ready to take that next step this season and challenge for a USCAA national playoff spot,” Gordon said. “I am very pleased with how the new additions to the team have adjusted to the college game and I expect them to make a big difference to the overall team success.”

     UMPI is looking to bounce back after beginning the season with six consecutive losses. The Owls fell on the road to Lyndon State (Vt.), UM-Farmington, UM-Machias and Maine Maritime Academy and at home to UM-Fort Kent and Fisher College.

     The Owls will play Central Maine Community College in Auburn Sept. 24 and the annual homecoming festivities will be the first weekend in October this year as the Owls welcome Unity College Oct. 1. The team continues with a matchup on the Presque Isle Middle School turf on Oct. 4 against UM-Machias.

     UMPI concludes its regular season Oct. 22 at UM-Fort Kent.