ASHLAND, Me. (WAGM) - This program is no stranger to regional and state finals, but going into 2019, they find themselves in a rare position: Underdogs in Class D. Led by County legend Peter Belskis, the Ashland Hornets are looking for a return trip to the North regional finals.
"We always think positive, so we go into every game thinking that we're going to win the game of course," Belskis said, "But in reality we know that we have a younger team so build towards being better towards the end of the season, it's a long season."
The Hornets are quite young, they only have one senior. But that one senior is one of the best players in Class D. Shelby Stolze. She has to be the leader of the Hornets, the Queen Bee if you will, and she says they're ready for a good season.
"It's really nice because I know everyone," Stolze said. "I've played with most of them, we have good chemistry this year and a really good team."
The Hornets are off to a 1-1 start to begin the year. They lost their opening game to the Central Aroostook Panthers, the reigning Class D North Champs, and the team that ended Ashlands 2018 season in the regional final. A loss that still is very much on the minds of the Hornets.
"Oh, it was very sad, I think we ran out of gas at the end of it," Stolze said. "I thought about it all the time and just how depressing it was."
But Coach Belskis knows that with losses comes lessons.
"In life, the reality is, that you don't win all the time, we've been fortunate for a few years and we've been on the upside," Belskis said. "Last year we had to take the opposite end of it. You learn from your defeats as much as you do if not more than your victories."
The Hornets almost faced another major hurdle to get back to the regional final this year when they lost their goalie, but the girls were able to convince basketball standout Jamie Poulin to lace the cleats back up, strap on the gloves and step in the net.
"Well it was mostly Sydney she sent me a text the day before practice she was like you know we really want you in goal, you've got the height," Poulin said. "I've really enjoyed it we have good chemistry with the girls, and I'm glad to be back that's what I missed being around the girls."
Young team. New goalie. But this is Ashland. The best program in the County over the past decade, Central Aroostook may be the favorite up here, but they're still want to make some noise.
"We're looking forward to our challenge going forward this year and we hope to be there somewhere at the end and maybe stick our nose in there a little bit and maybe cause a few problems for some people," Belskis said.