High school girls soccer

Terrific trotters: Mustangs refuse to be corralled in satisfying 10-win season

Expectations high, Mount View players enjoy fruits of labor, deliver on most goals
By Ken Waltz | Nov 30, 2017
Photo by: Ken Waltz Mount View players hold hands and prepare to run across the field to greet fans after a Class B North playoff game against Hermon earlier this fall in Thorndike.

Thorndike — Mount View High School girls soccer teams certainly have shown flashes of pitch brilliance over the decades — of course, winning a state Class B championship in 1996 certainly was a major highlight — but, more often than not in recent times, the Mustangs have struggled to compete at a high level and the victories they sought — worked so hard to earn — often proved fleeting,

But that all changed, in a big way, this fall and had much to do with a demanding, but fair and understanding coach named "Admiral" Page, a young corps of talented student-athletes and tremendous senior leadership.

Early on, the players and coaches created a list of goals and objectives — "team expectations," if you will — written on, of course, a big green sheet of paper. The sign included the names and numbers of the players, but also the following team/individual messages:

• Never give up.

• Work hard.

• Set goals.

• Give 100 percent.

• Have fun.

• Sportsmanship.

• Commitment.

• Push yourself.

• Be on time.

• Hydrate or die.

• Be positive.

• Don't give up.

• Help each other.

• No drama.

• Be encouraging.

• Play with heart.

• No detentions.

• Teamwork.

And, at the bottom of the list, it was written, in large letters: Playoffs.

For the most part, although every sports season, from the youngest groups to the professional level, has its unique ups and downs, the Mustangs accomplished most, if not all, of those "expectations" and flourished on and off the field.

The Mustangs, led by head coach David Page and assistant coach Matt Bennett, included seniors Betsy Hunt (forward), Reilly Sullivan (forward), Kristen Raven (defender), Mariah Wren (defender), Elise Brown (defender), Katelin Bennett (midfielder), Hannah Clifford (defender) and Monica Wren (midfielder); juniors Shala Davis (goalie), Stella Tirone (goalie) and Emily Lancaster (defender); sophomores Hannah Oliver (defender), Abbi Downer (forward), Lilly Blake (defender) and Taylor Hodgdon (forward); and freshmen Sage Pound (forward), Gabby Ravin (forward), Gabriella Allen (defender) and Arianna Allen (forward). The captains were Monica Wren, Mariah Wren, Katelin Bennett and Brown.

During the regular season, the Mustangs finished 10-4 and eighth in Class B North. Caribou finished 13-1 and first in the 21-team region, which qualified 14 to the postseason tournament. Thus, the Mustangs hosted No. 9 Hermon (10-3-1) in a prelim playoff game — and lost 4-0.

While that home playoff loss was difficult to swallow for the Mustangs, they can be somewhat comforted by the fact Hermon is an annual regional title contender (having won twice since 2012) and proved formidable for other playoff opponents this fall as well, as the Hawks beat No 1. Caribou 3-2 in the quarterfinals, No. 13 Maine Central Institute 2-0 in the semifinals and lost to No. 2 Presque Isle 2-0 in the regional final. Presque Isle lost to Yarmouth in the state final.

Thus, this season proved, overall, the Mustangs, as a program, were moving in the right direction.

Mount View finished 3-9-2 last year and failed to qualify for the regional tournament, but had seen a strong resurgence in its program in recent years, including making the postseason two years ago.

In fact, in 2015, Mount View played in the postseason for the first time in a decade, as the Mustangs, 6-6-3 that year, won a prelim playoff game and moved on to battle, of course, Hermon, which was No. 2 and undefeated that year, in the quarterfinals. The Mustangs lost that second playoff game.

It is believed 2015 was the first time the Mustangs had won a playoff game since the team advanced to the state final in 1996.

And the team's upward trend continued to gallop forward this season.

In 14 regular-season games, the Mustangs outscored opponents 43-16, with six shutouts and were only shutout once. Mount View started the campaign 2-2 and then won eight of its final 10 games.

Coach Page said this year's offensive catalyst was Bennett, with nine goals and seven assists, and Monica Wren, with five goals and eight assists. After that the Mustang offense was balanced with seven players who scored four or five goals.

The other offensive leaders were: Hodgdon and Hunt, five goals and Pound, Ravin, Gabby Allen and Arianna Allen, four.

"I thought we were going to have to rely on our defense — Elise Brown, Mariah Wren, Hannah Clifford, Kristen Raven, Emily Lancaster, Hannah Oliver and goalie Shala Davis — more early on while our offense gelled," Page said. "But in the end, the young players developed a lot faster than I expected."

Page said the team improved by more than 30 goals scored and cut its goals-against in half from the previous season.

Brown was the team's anchor on defense and "allowed us to change things up and take more chances all over the field," Page said.

Brown was Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B first-team all-conference and Bennett and Davis league honorable mentions. Brown also was a Class B North All-State selection.

"On the first day of summer soccer the girls all sat down and developed their expectations for this season," Page said. "Then they posterized them and brought them to every game as a reminder of what they wanted to accomplish. And for real, if there was a lull in a game or practice, I'd just remind them of their expectations and the girls would immediately refocus."

So what did the four captains think of their final season as a Mustang soccer player?:

Brown: "The difference this year started with the senior leadership on the team. I think very rarely you have a team where you could easily have eight captains instead of the usual one or two. Each senior, if not at the beginning of the season, but at the end, showed their leadership in different ways. This formed a bond on the team that resulted in us working together on the field as one cohesive unit. At the end of the season realizing our success and/or goals that we met I couldn't be prouder."

Mariah Wren: "Throughout my four seasons of being on the Mount View girls soccer program, a lot has changed. As a freshman the team had many struggles, but we were always up for a challenge. Working together and playing as a team was never a major issue. It just took us a little time to learn how to manage the team's individual skill and how to set it up on the field. Although we were not as experienced as other teams, we never let our teammates down. We simply got up and kept playing, regardless of how the game went. We were not a winning-streak team, but a team that won very few games. Mount View's girls soccer program was seen as the underdogs, and we were about to change that. By my sophomore year we made a list of goals that we were determined to achieve by the end of the season, and all of those goals led up to one great desire, making it to the playoffs for the fist time in 10 years, and that is exactly what we did. At that point our confidence rose and we continued to strive for greater achievements. This year as a senior not only did we make it to the playoffs again, but we hosted a game as well. We grew together as a team and by doing so, we became more experienced, stronger, and we were no longer labeled as the underdogs. We were an entirely different team, who could compete against any team while holding our own. A team that could finally say, we were a winning-streak team holding a record of 10 wins and four losses. Looking back to all of my seasons overall, it feels great to realize that with motivation, determination, commitment and dedication, success will come our way if you work hard for it. This team has improved dramatically over the past four years of my soccer career and I couldn't be any more proud of the team, with all that we put into the soccer program, we deserved it."

Bennett: "Being a part of the Mount View girls soccer program for the past four years has truly been a privilege and great experience for me. When I first came into this program as a freshman we were always looked at as the underdogs and weren't the winning team we knew we could be. The freshmen class that I came in with consisted of eight girls who were determined to build this program. My first year we didn't win many games, but many of us were also inexperienced. During my sophomore year we had a breakthrough and made it to playoffs while winning our first playoff game in many years. My junior year we fell short in many games and only won a few games, but something finally clicked my senior year. During my last year in this program us eight seniors realized this was it and we had something to prove. We had the best season this program has seen in over 20 years, we won a total of 10 games and were able to host a playoff game, something that Mount View had not seen in a long time. I'm very proud to say we left our mark and persevered through the many challenges we faced. Being able to say that I was apart of this program truly brings me great honor. I couldn't of asked for better teammates, coaches, and support throughout these past four years."

Monica Wren: "The fall 2017 soccer season sadly came to an end, but looking back I am more than proud to say, 'We did it,' while wearing a smile on my face. As a senior and as a captain I was more than excited for the season to start. Our numbers were bigger than those in the past, and our skill began to stick out. In the beginning of the summer, us girls had set out team expectations in which we had to reach every day as the season went on. At the bottom of our poster board, was written "Playoffs" in big writing. This was our ultimate expectation and goal we had to reach.The whole team was determined to meet each goal, including playoffs. Myself, and the senior class especially, were more than determined to use our team skills to make it to playoffs just one more time. The team worked hard each and every practice and it showed through in our games. Many of our freshmen started each game, as the newer players mixed in well with the older players, and our finishing results after each win, and sometimes a hard loss, showed just that. The juniors and seniors of this season had made it to play offs in 2015, making it the first time that Mount View's girls soccer program had made it to playoffs in [many] years. Last year, we fell short from making playoffs as we had only won three games, but this year the team pulled through making it the first time in 20 years that the Mount View girls soccer program had hosted a playoff game. Even with the hard loss, I am still very proud to have the team finally be recognized for our hard work and dedication. Before I came into high school, there was a word my Coach David Page used to motivate his players, that word was: Ganbare, meaning I will persevere. I will continue to work hard. This word carried through to the whole team, and to a certain few even more. I have so much pride in my teammates this year and I couldn't be more proud of them. They are my family. Even more so, I owe a huge thanks to my coaches for pushing me to become better, for pushing our team to become better, and simply giving us all so much respect by believing in us. I believe in the word Ganbare and I will forever take it with me every where I go. I hope for the best of Mount View's girls soccer program as I stand on the sidelines and remember what it was like to play with a team that has so much passion and so much love for the game."

Page added, "Every girl bought into the expectation of winning and pushed one another all season to succeed and that's a reflection of the leadership of these seniors. They created a climate where everyone felt important and respected. Looking back, their commitment and leadership played an enormous role in getting this program to a whole new level on the field, created an atmosphere where everyone genuinely loved and enjoyed one another, and hopefully created moments and memories that they'll never forget.

"And these underclassmen learned from the seniors and are prepared to keep it going — they started playing indoor soccer only a week or two after the season ended, hit the soccer camp circuit in the summer and want to sustain our programs success going forward. We've come a long way, a lot has changed over the last eight years and I'm grateful and proud of all these girls for sticking with the program though some pretty challenging times."

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Ken Waltz
Sports Director
594-4401, extension 114
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Ken Waltz has been a media member 35 years and has received hundreds of Maine Press Association and New England Press Association awards for his writing, photography and page design. He has an associate degree in law enforcement and studied journalism at the University of Maine in Orono. He lives in South Thomaston with his wife, Sarah. The couple has an adult son, Brandon, who lives in North Carolina with his wife, Hannah, and daughter, Audrey Josephine. Ken loves to golf, ride his motorcycle, exercise at the YMCA and follow his beloved Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins. He also has had a lifelong passion for the mysterious and all things paranormal/cryptozoological.

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