BAR HARBOR — The improvements come with each passing day — and now, with less than two weeks to go in the regular season, potential is translating into success for the Mount Desert Island girls’ soccer team.
The start to the 2021 season was not an easy one for MDI. Beginning the year with a challenging slate of opponents, the Trojans fell to defeats in their first three games, the closest of which was a three-goal loss to Presque Isle in the team’s season opener.
Since then, though, the Trojans have kicked the 2021 campaign into high gear. Competitive in each of its past six games, MDI now has three wins to its name and is aiming to ride into the playoffs on a high note with over the regular season’s final two weeks.
“Every game gets better and better,” MDI senior Lelia Weir said. “Our passing gets better, our communication gets better, and we’re finally starting to score some goals. We’re making progress, and it’s great when you see that progress pay off with results.”
MDI’s first win of the season came in the form of an 8-2 win over George Stevens Academy on Sept. 15 in Blue Hill. Prior to that game, the Trojans had gone scoreless in two straight contests, first in a 9-0 loss Sept. 8 against Hermon and again in a 4-0 loss Sept. 13 against Foxcroft.
Following that blowout win, MDI fell to 1-6 as it suffered losses to Caribou, Old Town and Ellsworth. Yet those games didn’t come without bright moments for the Trojans, who scored first in all three contests and held leads over the Coyotes and Vikings at halftime.
“It’s been really cool to see how our team is making those improvements over the course of the season,” MDI’s Sabine Costello-Sanders said. “A lot of it is just little changes from game to game, but you can see how it’s there.”
On Saturday, MDI was rewarded for its perseverance with perhaps its most satisfying result of the year. Trailing Foxcroft by a goal on two separate occasions, the Trojans brought the score level both times and ultimately claimed a 3-2 win in overtime to avenge their 4-0 defeat last month.
Weir and Sophia Anderson provided the goals in regulation for the Trojans with Weir’s score coming 5 minutes, 12 seconds after halftime and Anderson’s following a go-ahead goal by Foxcroft minutes later. Then, with 1:12 remaining in the first overtime period, Elle Yarborough received a cross from Weir and fired home the winning goal.
“The first time we played [Foxcroft], it was 0-0 at halftime before we hit a rough patch, so I felt going into Saturday that we could turn it around,” Weir said. “I felt like we outplayed them the whole game, and when we won it, it was just such a good feeling.”
Weir and Costello-Sanders are part of a large MDI senior class that also includes Bella Brown, Avary Bryer, Olivia Gray, Kaleena Higgins, Hannah St. Amand, Claire Sanner, Addy Smith and Sadie Sullivan. From the Trojans’ record-setting 2019 season to last year’s pandemic campaign to the current year, that group of players has been through plenty of ups and downs together over the past four years.
For Weir and Costello-Sanders, the time has simply flown by. So, too, has it for MDI’s seventh-year head coach, who has now guided four graduating classes of players through the varsity ranks from their freshman years to their senior seasons.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t really think about how time went by so fast, but when you see all these kids come and go, you realize that it goes by super fast,” May Chan said. “Just for them to be able to stick with it, connect with the other girls, form the friendships and see the growth they have is amazing.”
MDI’s recent spell of success continued Tuesday as the Trojans posted a 5-2 win over visiting Presque Isle (2-5). The Trojans got a hat trick and an assist from Weir, a goal and an assist from Anderson, a goal from Aleksandra Hanley and an assist from St. Amand to avenge another of their early-season defeats.
MDI (3-6) is scheduled to play on the road against John Bapst (5-2) at 4 p.m. today, Oct. 7, and Hermon at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 11. The Trojans will then begin a three-game home stand to close out the season when they host GSA at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13.
After that, the ninth-ranked Trojans will close out the season with home games at 1 p.m. next Saturday, Oct. 16, against Bapst and 6 p.m. the following Tuesday, Oct. 19, against Ellsworth. With all teams eligible for this year’s open tournament, MDI is hoping to carry its current run of success into the postseason.
“Hopefully, we can see a bit more of the improvement and confidence we’ve seen these past several games,” Chan said. “Most of the teams we have left, we’ve played them once already, and I know the girls are excited to face them again.”