With the experience of 14 seniors returning, Camden Hills knew it had the potential for another impressive regular season. Combine talent and motivation, and the Windjammers are right where they want to be as the No. 1 seed heading into the Eastern Class B playoffs.

A year ago, second-seeded Camden Hills lost to top-ranked Ellsworth 3-2 in the regional final. The seeds are reversed now. The Windjammers hope the result of the Eastern Maine final also will be reversed if the two schools meet again.

Camden Hills beat Nokomis 7-0 Tuesday for a second straight unbeaten regular season. The Windjammers shut out 13 of their 14 opponents. Only Maine Central Institute scored in what ended as a 6-2 victory for Camden Hills. The victory against Nokomis gave the Windjammers a 27-0-1 record over two regular seasons.

“I knew we would be pretty strong,” said second-year coach Ryan Hurley. “I wasn’t sure we’d be as strong as we are. It helps to have good players.”

It also helps to have a team committed to a coach’s philosophy.

“The kids have been willing to accept my ideas,” said Hurley. “And they work hard.”

Defensively, the Windjammers’ strategy is straightforward.

“When we don’t have the ball, everyone plays defense,” Hurley said.

And when Camden Hills has the ball, the focus is just as intense.

“We possess the ball really well and we place a heavy emphasis on the technical side of the game,” said Hurley.

On offense, the team is led by Malcolm Steele, Sam Predham and Andrew Flanagan. Steele and Predham have 17 goals apiece; Flanagan has 12. Goalkeeper Ian Cushing has been outstanding.

Tied 1-1 at halftime in last year’s Eastern Maine final, the Windjammers took a 2-1 lead with 18 minutes remaining before Ellsworth tied it a minute later and won with just over two minutes left.

“It didn’t feel good,” said Hurley. “The kids are pretty motivated to get back to that game. This group of seniors played a lot when they were freshmen.”

That season ended in a 4-1 loss to Presque Isle in the regional final. Losses to Ellsworth the last two years made the team hungry.

The Windjammers know they will have home-field advantage throughout the regional tournament.

WINDHAM HAS gotten hot at the right time and will look to keep it that way throughout the Western Class A playoffs.

But it won’t be easy. The Western Maine playoffs appear wide open.

Since losing to Cheverus 2-0 on Sept. 20, the Eagles have won seven straight.

Included in that streak are victories against South Portland, Cheverus and Deering. The Eagles wrapped up the regular season Tuesday night and like the other bye teams, will have to wait more than a week before the quarterfinals Oct. 26.

Concerned about that layoff, Coach Colin Minte will have his Eagles scrimmage Waynflete on Friday to stay sharp.

As for the regional playoffs, Minte said they are wide open.

“There’s no clear-cut favorite,” he said.

“Any of the top teams could win it. I’m confident the way we’re playing. I think the win over Scarborough (3-2 on Oct. 1) caught a lot of people’s eyes.”

Asked to assess his team’s overall play this season, Minte said: “We’ve had some good games and some games where we didn’t show up.”

Windham’s strong second half of the season has assured it will be the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. Scarborough will be No. 1.

“It should be an exciting and nervous couple of weeks,” said Minte of the playoffs.

BECAUSE OF goalkeeper Chris Knaub’s headaches, Yarmouth used his backup, junior Andrew Fochler, on Monday night against York. York edged the Clippers 1-0 to secure the No. 1 seed in the Western Class B playoffs.

Coach Mike Hagerty, who said Knaub was held out for precautionary reasons, was impressed with Fochler’s performance on such short notice.

Fochler didn’t learn he was playing until 2 p.m. Monday.

“Andrew really stepped up,” said Hagerty. “I thought he played the game of his life.”

By replacing Knaub, who will be ready for the playoffs, Fochler got to play against his stepbrother, Nate Diffin, who is the York goalkeeper.

Hagerty said his team likely will be ranked No. 3 for the playoffs behind York and Falmouth.

 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:
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Twitter: TomChardPPH