High school boys soccer

Remarkable turnaround has Mount View among top squads in Class B North

Despite considerable graduation losses, Mustangs have held lofty position much of fall season
By Mark Haskell | Oct 04, 2017
Photo by: Ken Waltz

Thorndike — Last season at this time, the Mount View boys soccer team was looking up at the majority of teams in the Class B North standings, playing out the string, so to speak, and set to fall short of its goal to qualify for the playoffs.

What a difference a year makes.

After graduating eight seniors and returning only two starters from last year’s team, the Mustangs have, somewhat unexpectedly, stampeded their way through the 2017 campaign — and perhaps eye home-field advantage throughout the regional tournament.

Following the team’s 2-0 win over Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor Saturday, Oct. 7, the ‘Stangs sport a nearly untarnished 10-1 mark and are currently ranked fourth in the 21-team region.

Mount View and Washington Academy of East Machias are tied for the best record in the region, though Brewer (9-2-1) is ranked first by virtue of Heal Points. The 'Stangs have been amongst the top teams in the region all season and have seen ample time atop the region as well in recent weeks.

Coach Dale Hustus, in his first full season guiding the Mustangs after taking the reins of the programs a few games into last year, admitted “We’re having a real good season.”

“The biggest key to our success has been we’re playing for one another, not just with one another,” said Hustus. “This year’s team is really something special. They honestly play for one another.”

Mount View has outscored opponents 46-11 through 10 games, including two shutout victories over Nokomis of Newport and one each over Belfast, Ellsworth, Lincoln Academy of Newcastle and MDI. The team's lone loss was 5-2 to Winslow, which is 10-2 and fifth in the region.

The Mustangs have had 10 different players crease the net this season, though the focus offensively has been Elijah Allen, who leads the team with 20 of its 46 goals.

Allen is a sophomore and getting his first real taste of varsity action this season. Allen broke his arm in the first game of last season as a freshman — a loss to Winslow — and missed the “vast majority” of the campaign, the coach said.

And while Allen has pumped in many goals, Hustus has a core group of scorers each as capable as the next — and none are concerned with who gets the credit.

“The boys have really bought into the fact that it doesn’t matter who puts the ball in the back of the net,” he said. “Every time it ends up there, it’s good for everybody on the team.”

Midfielders Matt Overlock and Josh Larrabee are the only returning starters from last year’s team.

“We lost a ton of talent [to graduation] last year,” said Hustus. “We are very fortunate though that the folks that were behind them seeing primarily jayvee time last year did see some varsity time. But they all played so well together. Even as a jayvee team last year, we were dominant. So to take that core group of kids up from the jayvee ranks and put them into these starting positions, they were more than ready for it.”

The Mustangs are led offensively by Allen, along with Overlock, Cassidy Pound, Darrett Fowler and Noah Jacobs. Hustus said though they are technically three forwards and two midfielders, “it’s almost like having five forwards.

“They work so well together,” he said. “The midfielders know when to make the runs, the forwards expect that they’re going to make the runs and are able to put the ball in a spot and our midfielders can serve it up in the box for us.”

While much is made of the offense, the corps of fullbacks Andrew Savoy, Damien Doughty, Jackson Martin and Gage Gilley on defense “have had the biggest impact coming up from junior varsity.”

“They are our starting fullbacks right now,” said Hustus. “They went from a role last year on the junior varsity team to, boom, they are now varsity starters and having a great impact.”

Mustang keeper Max Tomlin has not been particularly busy this season, which has a great deal to do with the team’s last line of defense keeping opponents from the goal mouth.

“We are playing the majority of our games in front of the other team’s goal,” said Hustus. “And when you’re only asking your keeper to handle the ball five, six, seven times a game, it doesn’t give that other team a lot of opportunities to put goals on the board. If they can’t score, they can’t beat us.”

It has been an impressive turnaround this season. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Mount View — in addition to Washington Academy — are having the success they are having as the two smallest schools by enrollment in Class B North, with the Mustangs at 412 students and the Raiders at 417, according to figures from the spring.

“It doesn’t matter how big of a school we’re from,” said Hustus. “It comes down to the fact that we come each and every day ready to play [and] do the best that we can. We don’t let adversity get to us. We’ve had games where things haven’t gone our way, but we persevered and got it done in the end.”

For example, Mount View had an early 2-0 lead against Brewer on Saturday, Sept. 20 and the Witches battled back to tie the game by halftime, though the Mustangs pulled away in the second half to earn a 5-2 win.

The previous day, the Mustangs posted a 1-0 homecoming victory over Lincoln Academy of Newcastle.

The Eagles and Witches were unbeaten heading into their respective matches with the Mustangs.

“We went out and beat teams that were previously undefeated in back-to-back nights,” said Hustus.

“And that whole momentum [swell] has had a great impact on the team. They’re pumped up, they’re ready for practice and they want to get better. And they’re talking. They know we’re having a great season, and they’re not ready to settle for just a great season.”

The Mustangs have had a pair of long stints without games of late, including a six-day stretch from Sept. 20-26 and a week-long wait from Sept. 26 to Oct. 3.

Mount View defeated Nokomis 6-0 on Tuesday, Sept. 26 and waited a week until it played MCI, when the Mustangs earned a 3-1 win Tuesday, Oct. 3.

Now, following its win over the Trojans, the Mustangs will play three games in four days to wrap the regular season, including at Foxcroft Academy on Tuesday, Oct. 10, home with John Bapst of Bangor on Wednesday, Oct. 11 and at Lawrence of Fairfield on Friday, Oct. 13.

Hustus said “the general level of excitement in the community for the team is rising,” a fact which hit home when he attended the school’s homecoming football game against Orono.

“I probably had 15 or 20 people stop me wanting to talk about the soccer team and what a great season we’re having and wished us luck as we continued," the coach said. "When I stop to put gas in the truck, somebody wants to let me know, ‘Hey, I’ve been following you in the newspaper, keep up the good work.’ It’s really improved the excitement in the community about the program and we’re real happy to see that.”

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Mark Haskell
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
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Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. Haskell has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School. He has won multiple Maine Press Association awards for writing and photography.

Mark loves the Boston Red Sox, iced coffee, cargo shorts and time with friends and family.

He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn, his sons Beckett and Austin and daughter Lila.

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