By Tony Blasi Sports Editor
REGION — Coach Griffin Conlogue believes that athletes’ perseverance on the field will also determine the course of their future.
Perseverance, along with array of talent, is what also steered the Western Maine United U-14 Girls soccer team to the Fall Classic Cup semifinals where the team will face Kennebunk at Crimmins Field in Brunswick on Sunday, Oct. 28, at 8:45 a.m.
“Their perseverance is incredible,” Conlogue said. “I believe young athletes who demonstrate perseverance are the kinds of kids that go on to have the most success both on and off the field.
“After we won our playoff game to send us to the final four, my midfielder Emma Dunn said: ‘When we were 7 and 8 years old we were excited to just score one goal a game and now we are playing in the final four.’
“For this group of girls to start their soccer careers losing more often than not and still stick with it, shows how strong their character is. They’ve always loved the game and that has translated into an undefeated season.”
But there are other explanations to U-14’s success this season – depth and flexibility.
“I have prioritized development over scoring tons of goals over the last two seasons, and that has paid off with the team getting solid contributions from every player,” Conlogue explained. “Eight of our 14 players scored at least one goal this season.
“Every player has played at least three different positions and grown both defensively and offensively. Most players on the team could play any position and find some level of success.”
But Conlogue’s confidence was high this season and knew a trip to the Fall Classic Cup was not out of the question.
“Last season, we were knocked out of the group play part of the playoffs,” Conlogue said. “Only the top team moved on to the Final 4 and we finished second in our group due to a tied game.
This year, I knew we had the potential to have an amazing season, but I didn’t expect to finish the regular season as the No. 1 ranked team in the league.
“As we started to rack up wins and play more confidently I knew we could make a run for the state championship. I’ve told the girls all year that it’s important we are confident and not cocky. They play incredible when they believe that they’ll win the game.”
And U-14’s chances in the tournament look promising because every member of the team contributes to their success.
Though it is hard to single out any player as they’ve all been such big contributors,” Conlgoue said. :Here are some that made a huge statistical impact this year:”
K.K. Daggett 15 goals, four assists; Vivian Cormier seven goals; Kamryn Joyce, six assists.
“Caitlin Burke is elite goalkeeper who rarely lets in goals,” Conlogue said. Emma Casavant and Callahan Towle are my center backs who anchored my defense and allowed only nine goals in eight games this season.
“Our outside backs and outside midfielders are what put us over the edge, though, as I’m always fielding 11 talented and competent soccer players no matter who is on the field.”
Conlogue applauds this U-14 team for their dedication and positive attitude, which certainly played a roll in their success.
“I know every coach would say this, but they are the kindest and most dedicated group of young athletes that you could imagine,” Conlogue said. ‘I’ve never seen a group of girls who stick up for each other and support each other so much.
I teach at the school that all 14 attend and every morning I see most of the team walking the halls together. There’s never any drama or any individuals who care more about their personal success more than the team’s success.
“I’m extremely lucky that I get to continue coaching this group of girls as most will be heading up to Mt. Blue High School in a year. It’s a coaches dream to coach a group of athletes like this.”
Team: Western Maine United U-14 Girls
Head coach: Griffin Conlogue (also Western Maine United vice president)
Assistant coaches: Shelley Joyce and Collette Daggett
Record: 5-0-1 regular season, 7-0-1 including playoffs
Highlights: Western Maine United U-14 Girls defeated Ellsworth 3-1 and Waterville Novas 3-0 to win their playoff group and earn a spot in the Soccer Maine Classic Cup final four.