When Bryan Hoy begins the school week at South Portland, he notices a heightened sense of enthusiasm after a good weekend.

“The school responds better on Monday when the football team wins on Friday,” said Hoy, the Red Riots’ boys’ soccer coach and an English teacher. “It’s great to see the athletes at South Portland taking off and winning. It’s good to see the values that are instilled on the athletic field translate to the classroom.”

South Portland’s field hockey team will make the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and the football team has re-emerged as a competitor in Class A.

Now, the boys’ soccer team is able to contribute to that sense of community.

The Red Riots were 9-2-1 after a 2-2 tie against Gorham on Tuesday, but they won’t be satisfied with just securing a playoff berth.

South Portland opened the week seventh in the Western Class A Heal point standings and is vying for a top-four playoff spot in the regional.

“The players, they’ve been thinking about it all year,” Hoy said. “To the program, this year has been huge.

“Ever since I’ve taken over, we’ve made the playoffs and that helps the program as a whole. Some of the kids who might be on the fringe, you don’t lose those kids.”

The Red Riots next play Thursday at Portland, and  close the regular season Monday at home against Cheverus. Both games are important for the Red Riots.

“The importance of the games is that we feel like we’ve made the playoffs, but now it’s getting ourselves ready,” Hoy said.

“We haven’t beaten any teams ranked ahead of us, but it’s about getting over that mental hump. We have to beat those teams ranked ahead of us.”

Hoy took over the boys’ soccer program at South Portland in 2007 and had been coaching basketball and teaching at South Portland for a year prior to becoming the soccer coach. What he saw in the Red Riots was a team with talent and with the tools to compete in the SMAA.

“My goal was to point the players in the right direction,” Hoy said. “They needed to understand that they could win. My ultimate goal was to make our team competitive with the rest of the league.”

ENTERING THE
final week of the regular season, Wiscasset was atop Western Class C and was one of two remaining undefeated teams in the region, made up of teams from the Western Maine Conference and Mountain Valley Conference.

“We’re not preparing any differently than we have been all year,” said Wayne Benn, the second-year coach.
“We’re not going to change our game plan.”

Wiscasset (11-0-1) faces Monmouth Academy today, then closes the regular season Friday at St. Dominic in Auburn in a game that could determine the region’s top seed in the playoffs.

Earlier this season, Wiscasset and St. Dominic tied, 1-1.

Benn, who previously coached the Wiscasset girls’ soccer team, has a team made up of eight seniors, including his son, Ashton, and four juniors. He emphasizes the importance of experience and chemistry for this year’s team.

“The senior experience is so important,” Benn said. “Not just for the physical aspect, but it’s almost like a dance. They know where each other is going to be when they pass, how they’re going to react. That is invaluable.”

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at: [email protected]