MARS HILL, Me. (WAGM) - The Central Aroostook boys soccer team was almost perfect last season. They finished the regular season undefeated at 14-0 and reached the North Finals where their dream season came to a crashing halt. They lost a heart breaker to Penobscot Valley, 3 to 2 on their home field. Now they're trying to reload for another run at a gold ball. However, they'll have to do it without striker Hunter Wardwell, one of the best goal scorers in school history.
"We may not score the goals we did last season per say," Head Coach Wallace Endy said. "I mean we ended up with over 100 goals for the season, I don't think we'll be that caliber of a team but we'll still beat teams."
With a program like Central Aroostook, it's a next-man-up mentality.
"I got a few kids in the front line, they're pretty eager to score," Endy said. "Brian Anthony will provide goals, Hayden Kingsbury will provide goals and different other ones, they may not be like the 40 goal scorer that I'm used to."
The Panthers do have a solid group of upperclassmen returning, but they're going to need the young guns to get up to speed quickly.
"Definitely our offense is going to have to step up," Senior goalkeeper Brayden Bradbury said. "We kind of lost someone from every line, our younger kids coming in are going to have a big load, a lot bigger than they thought they would."
"Some of our freshman need to step up for sure," Senior winger Hayden Kingsbury said. "We only have a couple of sophomores, Frank and James, so they're going to have to step up."
The biggest reason why they need to get up to speed. Because Central Aroostook has a target on its back. Every team in Class D is trying to take down the team that's been to the Northern Regional Championship two years running.
"A lot of teams are looking to beat us, we've been to the Northern Maines twice now," Bradbury said. "We've always been a power house in class D so we're trying to keep it the same."
With the added pressure, the Panthers keep their mission simple.
"I think we just need to play hard, work harder than everybody else, be smart and we'll be there," Kingsbury said.
Central Aroostook opens up their season at home NEXT FRIDAY, against Ashland.