November 27, 2011

Boys' All-State Soccer: A change in positions, and Lentine thrived

Robby Lentine, always a strong defender for Windham, showed he's just as good at midfield.

By Paul Betit
Staff Writer

click image to enlarge

Robby Lentine, right, was the spark that helped carry Windham to its first Class A state championship and made him the MVP for boys’ soccer this season.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer


Mitch Black, Brunswick senior, midfield: Extremely versatile, Black led the Dragons in scoring with nine goals and seven assists while playing a variety of positions.

Chris Hall, Messalonskee senior, back: The KVAC Class A North Player of the Year, Hall scored a team-high 12 goals while anchoring a defense that posted a school-record nine shutouts to lead the Eagles to their first Eastern Class A championship.

Andrew Jones, Scarborough senior, midfield: A very versatile player who can play a variety of positions, Jones scored nine goals and a team-high 15 assists to lead the Red Storm to the Western Class A final for the third time in four seasons.

Chris Knaub, Yarmouth senior, goalkeeper: In two seasons as starting keeper for the Clippers, Knaub posted 19 shutouts and compiled a .52 goals-against average.

Robby Lentine, Windham senior, midfield: After spending his first three varsity seasons as a central defender, Lentine moved forward in the formation to score a team-high 21 goals with 10 assists to lead the Eagles to their first Class A state championship.

Elliot Maker, Cheverus senior, forward: The SMAA offensive player of the year, Maker scored 29 goals and had 12 assists to lead all of Class A in scoring as the Stags advanced to the Western Class A semifinals for the first time in eight seasons.

Andy Murry, Falmouth senior, back: An all-Western Maine Conference selection at sweeper, Murry anchored a defense that allowed 17 goals in 18 games to lead the Yachtsmen to their second Class B state championship in three seasons.

Kyle Robinson, York senior, back: The center back in a three-man back line, Robinson anchored a defense that allowed 11 goals in 17 games to help propel the Wildcats into the Western Class B final for the first time in 11 years.

Tim Rovnak, Portland junior, forward: In 15 games, Rovnak, his team's main offensive threat, scored 15 goals and had nine assists to lead the Bulldogs into the Western Class A quarterfinals.

Benji Saban, Lewiston senior, forward: The KVAC Class A South player of the year, Saban scored 20 goals and had 13 assists to set the Blue Devils' single-season scoring record.

Malcolm Steele, Camden Hills senior, forward: The KVAC Class B Player of the year, Steele scored a team-high 18 goals and had 10 assists to lead the Windjammers to their first regional title in 20 years.

Coach of the Year

Brandon Salway, Waynflete: The defensive-minded Flyers claimed their first Class C state championship in their second trip to the state final in three seasons. "I always start at the back," Salway said. "I think it's important to have a well-organized defensive unit. ... If you don't give up any goals, you always have a chance to win." In 18 games, Waynflete allowed 13 goals and posted nine shutouts. Under Salway, who has coached soccer at the Portland school for 22 years, the Flyers won three Class D state championships while making seven trips to the final over a 15-year period.

The high school soccer season started for Robby Lentine with a change in positions.

After playing his first three varsity seasons at Windham at center back, Lentine moved forward in the formation to midfield.

"To change positions, it's almost like a completely different game, but basically I was just doing whatever our coach thought was best for the team," Lentine said. "It seemed to work out well and I really enjoyed myself in my new position."

In fact, Lentine thrived, as did the Eagles.

Not only did he lead the team in scoring with 21 goals and 10 assists, but he helped Windham capture its first Class A boys' soccer championship, and that was enough for him to be selected as the Maine Sunday Telegram player of the year for the sport.

In addition to his penchant for scoring goals, Lentine brought a huge intangible to his new position.

"He never stops playing and he energizes us," said first-year coach Colin Minte. "When the rest of the team saw how hard he was working, it just picked them up. Robby is not an especially vocal player, but he led by example."

Lentine had to make some changes in his game after he made the move from defense, and he credited his teammates with helping him make a smooth transition.

"When you switch to offensive center mid, which I did, there are a lot of things you can't do defensively," he said. "There were things that I did in the past that I couldn't do that the younger guys in the back had to step up and do, and they did. They executed the things they needed to do."

His teammates weren't really surprised to learn Lentine had a knack for scoring.

"To be honest, I didn't think he was going to be able to pull 21 goals out, but we moved him to outside back on our premier team so he could attack," said goalie Dana King, who has played on club teams with Lentine since both players were in the fifth grade.

"I think he's always had some sort of attacking ability in him, but he was such a great defender we wanted him in our back line."

Even in his new position forward in the formation, Lentine sometimes dropped back to help out on defense.

"He's a complete player," Minte said. "He can finish and score, and he can come back and play defense. Not a lot of players can do that."

No matter which position he plays, Lentine has the same approach to soccer.

"He does all the little things you would want him to," Minte said.

Lentine's performance this fall drew the interest from coaches at Division II and III schools up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

"Sometimes a player is a little hidden on defense, but after moving forward in the formation he's drawn the attention of coaches from all sorts of colleges," Minte said.

Lentine expects to make a decision on a college next month.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH


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