PRESQUE ISLE, Me. (WAGM) - On the first day of practice in 2018, the UMPI Owls women's soccer team had six players show up. Six! The coach left in the middle of the season. The program was at the proverbial rock bottom. Then Keli and Aaron Marsten picked up the whistle. Aaron took over as head coach during the offseason and has brought a new energy and a new belief to the UMPI Owls.
"Last season I walked on the field and it just seemed to be in shambles you know the girls were not looking uniform as a team," Marsten said. "This year we've set the tone early so we're watching film all through preseason, we've had technical sessions and tactical sessions it definitely has a college soccer feel now."
Marsten hit the recruiting trail and brought a whole new crop of young players.
"We have 12 new players, we have 10 freshman, we have three sophomores, two juniors and one senior," Marsten said. "They're an athletic and energetic group and we're expecting big things."
And most of the freshman should be familiar faces. Seven county freshman. Last year these girls were rivals on the field, now they're teammates. The adjustment has been a lot easier than expected.
"I figured it would be kind of awkward at first because we've been trained and raised to hate each other," former Ashland Hornet Kassandra Nelson said. "But its actually pretty great they're really nice girls."
"It's actually not that bad, I thought I wasn't going to get along with them at first but we get along pretty well and they're actually really fun," Former Caribou Viking Monica McLaughlin said.
The vibe of this team has totally changed and so far, it's translated on the field. The Owls won their first game against Vermont Tech 4 to 1. I could barely get the girls to keep a straight face during the interviews as their rivals turned teammates watched. That's what Marsten is going for with the UMPI Owls, bringing joy and motivation back to the Presque Isle campus. And it starts with bringing in County standouts.
"When you go to a high school game you're whole community is there and they've known you since you were five years old," Marsten said. "By bringing in a lot of county players in it's going to bring a lot of families and a lot of energy to the sidelines and it's really going to change our home game experience."