BAR HARBOR — Mount Desert Island High School junior varsity boys’ soccer Coach Steve Soper wanted nothing to do with statistics this season.
In fact, Soper doesn’t even have his team record written down anywhere. To him, it was unimportant and counterproductive when it came to getting the most out of his players.
“I don’t think those things send the message you’re trying to send when you’re at the JV level,” Soper said. “We need to focus on getting kids ready and improving skills, so you’re not really thinking about that. I didn’t keep stats, and I couldn’t remember our record of the scores if I tried.”
What Soper does remember, though, is that the Trojans achieved their goal of improving throughout the season. The first-year head coach wanted to emphasize playing style and physicality over the course of the season, and that’s exactly what his players did.
“We wanted to play aggressive soccer and focus on ball control,” Soper said. “It was confidence-building year for us, and you could see how much we jelled as a team.”
Soper had been an assistant for the Trojans’ varsity boys’ team in the past, but he had never been a head coach at the high school level. Yet when Brent Barker took a break from coaching the JV team, Soper stepped into the role.
“It was a different experience because you’re the one making all the decisions,” Soper said. “I had been a head coach for middle school softball in the past, but it’s a different environment in high school.”
The team didn’t score quite as consistently when the season started, but that changed as the Trojans continued to play and gain more experience. In multiple contests toward the end of the year, the Trojans had a player score at least three goals in a game.
“Ben [Hulbert] had one game where I had to tell him, ‘Hey, no more goals. You can only get assists from now on,’” Soper said. “When you see that confidence turn into results like we saw this year for the players, you can be very proud of what you’ve done.”
MDI’s varsity team, which made the Class B North playoffs this year, will soon see the rewards of those results. At the JV level, the team has numerous key players returning and a strong class of incoming freshmen.
“Everyone is already so excited for next year,” Soper said. “I think we’re only going to keep getting better.”
The team included Spencer Dominy, Seth Heard, Ivan Andros, Massimo Daul, Max Reznik, Finn Seyffer, Quincy Rozeff, Shane Bonilla, Oliver Blank, Jack DaCorte, Ben Hulbert, Jasper Berzinis-McLaughlin, Nicholas Harding and Travis Boumil.