Standing in the goal mouth, goalie Elizabeth Estabrook will be ready for anything.

For the last five years, Estabrook’s Maine Coast United soccer team has advanced to the Region I soccer tournament as the state champion in its age group.

She and her teammates will try for perhaps the last time to make their mark when they play in the under-17 age group today through Monday in West Virginia.

They will be joined by the Maine Coast United U-17 boys’ team, making its sixth consecutive appearance. There are 14 Maine teams participating.

“The game goes so much faster,” said Estabrook, who played high school soccer for Falmouth. “You just have to be ready all the time. A shot could come at any moment.

“But it’s not hard to stay motivated. Even though we’ve gone for five years now, no one takes it for granted. It’s so special.”

The U-17 girls have advanced to the Region I tournament since they were U-13s. The competition has helped round their game, said Coach Marcia Lycan. But they have yet to win a match.

“It’s a whole other league when you’re down there,” said Lycan, who was named Soccer Maine’s Premier Coach of the Year. “It’s very tough for the Maine teams to compete. But psychologically they’ve been there before. It won’t be new to them.”

According to the Region I archives dating back to 1981, only one other girls’ team from Maine has earned five consecutive state titles.

That team had three different coaches, making Lycan the only girls’ coach to take the same Maine team to the regional five consecutive times.

“She’s the glue that keeps the team together every year,” said Estabrook, who has played in every minute of every Region I game for Lycan. “She gets us so motivated and puts so much effort in.”

The U-17 boys have fared slightly better at the regional.

Still, it is a difficult draw facing clubs from states with larger populations than Maine.

Coach Todd Whitcomb said his team was one tie from advancing out of group play as U-14s.

“We’ve fared a little better than most of the Maine teams but we really haven’t broken through yet,” said Whitcomb.

He hopes this year will be different. His team is also unlikely to be together again next year.

“Our goal is to win our bracket,” said Whitcomb. “You talk a lot about the idea of not wanting to just be the best in Maine. A lot of it is psychological. They need to embrace the idea that at any given moment you can play with anybody. It was not too long ago when Maine teams were crushed when they went out of state. That is changing. We’re definitely competitive in New England.”

Lycan said her team will be gunning for their best tournament yet.

“You can’t go in with a defeatist attitude,” said Lycan. “You might as well not take the field.”

She reminds: “As we’ve all seen in the World Cup you never know in soccer. Any team can win on any given day.”

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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