Thursday, April 24, 2014
By Paul Betit email@example.com
After a string of preseason exhibitions, Bangor girls' soccer coach Joe Johnson knew he had a special player.
Ashley Robinson of Bangor, left, took it upon herself to lead Bangor back to the state final after a loss last season. And that’s what happened. And this time the Rams won.
John Ewing/Staff Photographer
GIRLS' SOCCER ALL-STATE TEAM
Caitlin Bucksbaum, Falmouth junior, midfield: A transfer student from North Carolina, Bucksbaum had 10 goals and a team-high 11 assists to help the Yachtsmen capture their second consecutive Class B state championship.
Kip Chipman, Brunswick senior, back: As one of the central backs, Chipman anchored a defense that allowed 10 goals and posted 13 shutouts in 17 games to lead the Dragons to their fourth consecutive appearance in the Eastern Class A final.
Tori Field, Morse senior, forward: The KVAC Class B player of year, Field scored 44 goals and had 13 assists to lead the state in scoring and propel the Shipbuilders to the Western Class B final in their first season in the division.
Addie LaBonte, York senior, back: A three-sport athlete, LaBonte anchored a defense that allowed 11 goals in 16 games and posted nine shutouts en route to the Western Class B semifinals.
Aley Leonardi, Kennebunk senior, forward: Committed to Division I Stony Brook University before the season began, Leonardi put in 24 goals to lead the Rams in scoring for the third consecutive season.
Breanna Martin, Oxford Hills senior, goalkeeper: The KVAC Class A South player of the year, Martin compiled a .929 saves percentage to lead the Vikings to their first appearance in the Eastern Class A tournament in six years.
Chelsea Nickerson, Presque Isle senior, back: A three-time All-Aroostook County selection, Nickerson was a backbone of a defense that posted 13 shutouts in 17 games as the Wildcats captured their second Eastern Class B title in four seasons.
Ashley Robinson, Bangor senior, forward: The KVAC Class A North Player of the Year, Johnson scored a team-high 28 goals and had 16 assists to lead the Rams to their first Class A state championship.
Emily Tolman, Scarborough senior, back: While leading the Red Storm to their second consecutive Western Class A title, Tolman, who was hampered by a foot injury for half of the season, anchored a defense that allowed less than a goal per game when she was in the lineup.
Kiersten Turner, Gorham senior, midfield: Turner scored a team-high 13 goals with nine assists to help the Rams advance to the Western Class A final for the third time in four seasons.
Melanie Vangel, Cape Elizabeth sophomore, forward: A transfer student from Camden Hills, Vangel had a team-high 20 goals and five assists for the Capers.
Coach of the Year
Wally LeBlanc, Falmouth: A veteran of 21 years as a girls' soccer coach, LeBlanc guided the Yachtsmen to their second consecutive Class B state championship in his first year on the job. "My expectations were just try to grow as a team," he said. "We weren't thinking we were going to win a state championship. We were just trying to grow, get to know each other and do as well as we could as a team." Previously, LeBlanc, a UMaine-Presque Isle graduate who grew up in Connecticut, coached at Windham, Westbrook and Edward Little.
"Coming out of the preseason after playing a lot of the southern Maine teams, I told one of my assistants we had the best player in the state," Johnson recalled.
That player is Ashley Robinson, a senior forward who scored a school-record 28 goals and had 19 assists to lead the unbeaten Rams to their first Class A state championship.
Robinson's statistics are impressive but not the sole reason she was named the Maine Sunday Telegram's Player of the Year for girls' soccer.
"She was our leading goal scorer but she also was a great senior leader," said Libby Huber, a junior who plays in midfield for Bangor. "She always wants to make us try harder. She's really talented but she doesn't get in your face about it."
Robinson's work ethic and passion for soccer set a good example for the rest of the team.
"She works so hard," Huber said. "She works before practice. She works during the off-season. If she's not playing soccer, she's working out, trying to stay in shape or working on her foot skills.
"She does a lot of work outside of practice to improve her skills."
Robinson said she lives to play soccer.
"Soccer is basically my life," she said. "I've been playing since I was about 5 or 6 years old."
Robinson, who recently was accepted at Division II University of Southern New Hampshire, began soccer year-round in the fifth grade.
"Growing up I played other sports, but I realized I had a passion for soccer so I decided to focus on soccer and tried to improve from year to year," she said.
While developing her individual skills, Robinson never lost sight of the fact that soccer is a team game.
"No doubt, her passion for the game and worth ethic is great," Johnson said, "but it was never about her. It was always about the team."
"She'd do anything for her team at the drop of a hat," Huber said. "She's the total package."
"When she was on the field, you could see she was very unselfish and she really cared about her teammates," Johnson added.
In 2010, after winning the second of their three Eastern Class A championships, the Rams were humbled by Scarborough in the state final, with the Red Storm rolling to a 3-0 victory.
Last summer, Robinson and teammates went to work.
"Right after school got out, we started practicing in the mornings three days a week," Robinson said. "We wanted to make it back to that state game. We wanted to be the team picking up that Gold Ball. We had to play hard as a team in order to get back, and we did."
Earlier this month, the Rams rolled to a 4-0 win over Scarborough to finally claim that Gold Ball.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: