MARS HILL, Me. (WAGM) - We continue our preseason look at teams who had strong finishes, today, we look at a squad who had no hype entering last year, but worked their way into the Class D state championship game. The Central Aroostook girls soccer team made their presence felt in a big way last season, they didn't lose a single game. Until the state title game that is. And this year for the Panthers, it's gold ball or bust.
"It was really awesome, it was like the best feeling ever, this year we're looking to win states," Senior midfielder Breann Bradbury said. "We're really preparing a lot in practice working our hardest so we're ready for that game."
They're off to a good start, the Panthers return all but one player from last year's regular season championship squad.
"It's really exciting because you know we're going to have a big year again," Senior forward Kate Levesque said. "I'm just really excited to see how far we can go again and make it to the state game and overcome our biggest opponent which would probably be Ashland."
Ahh Ashland, the team that is usually the Queen Bees of Class D. The team with all the hype, and deservedly so, but last year the Panthers took the sting out of the Hornets in the North Region championship game. The rivalry is on.
"They're definitely our toughest competition, we've worked really hard to beat them and I think we're going to beat them this year too," Bradbury said.
Big talk requires big action and the Panthers are putting in the time on the practice field.
"We just know that we need to wake up go to practice and work hard," Levesque said. "We know we have to get out conditioning in because we know that's the most important part because if we're ready physically we're ready mentally."
Spoken like a true coaches daughter. And as for coach, he knows this team has the potential to get back to the title game.
"The group that are now seniors have been such a strong group," Coach Joe Levesque said. "That makes it a whole lot easier to step in fill the roles to get better, if each one of them gets 10 percent better this year, it'll be fun to watch."
But coach isn't messing around. He's got the girls up at 7 am for practice, and the girls know that getting back to the state championship wont be a cake walk
"We have to know that its going to take more than it did last year," Kate Levesque said. "Last year may have seemed hard but this year we know it's going to take a lot more hard work so we just know that we gotta get up and do it."
And who comes to town for the first game of the season next Friday? You guessed it. The Ashland Hornets.