MAURA ESTEN, Senior-Soccer

* SMAA All-Star, first team

* McAuley Defensive Player of the Year

* Team captain

The McAuley girls’ soccer team made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. One of the biggest reasons for the squad’s success was an energetic talent who stood tall on defense and played a big role on set pieces. Her game and personality set her apart.

Maura Esten was widely considered one of the top defensive player in the league this fall, but that only begins to describe her value. Her leadership and attitude played huge roles in her team’s success and she can look forward to even more glory to come.

For helping the Lions get over the hump and return to the postseason, for continuing to dazzle not only her teammates and coaches, but those throughout the league, and for making the game fun with her unique approach, Maura Esten is The Forecaster’s choice for McAuley’s Fall 2010 Female Athlete of the Year.

Esten lives in South Portland and started playing soccer in the fourth grade. She spent four years on the varsity, but her senior year was certainly the best as the program featured a top-notch defense, which she spearheaded.

The Lions got off to a hot start in 2010, winning three of their first four outings and tying the other. In that stretch, they surrendered only one goal, on a penalty kick. McAuley won six games total, five by shutout and boasted its first winning regular season since 2002. The Lions gave up only 20 goals in 15 games, but eight of those came against eventual state champion Scarborough, in a game Esten didn’t play.

After the Lions were eliminated by Windham in the Western A preliminary round, Esten was named to the league’s first team and earned McAuley’s Defensive Player of the Year award for her knack of frustrating even the best opposing attackers.

“Starting well helped us this year,” Esten said. “We had a lot of good freshmen and having coach continuity was important.”

Esten also plays premier soccer for Maine Coast United in the winter and will throw the javelin in outdoor track in the spring. She’s a member of the school’s varsity club, volunteers at Brown Elementary School and plans to go to Canada for college, where she wants to continue playing soccer. She’s unsure of a major, but enjoys working with people.

That aspect of her personality shines through. So did her soccer brilliance. Maura Esten, McAuley’s Fall 2010 Female Athlete of the Year, was one of a kind and will be sorely missed.

Coach Vince Aceto’s Comment: “Maura played every minute and stopped everyone on every challenge she faced. She set up opportunities with her outstanding free kicks. I think pound-for-pound, she’s the best player in the conference. She is a gifted dribbler out of the back, distributes the ball with precision and can strike a free kick with such velocity it would amaze you. She’s a complete soccer player. She has such a spirit and a passion for the game. Having coached in college, I can tell you Maura is the complete soccer player any soccer coach looks for. Maura ranks as one of the top three gals I have ever coached.”

2009 winner: Lauren Fecteau (Cross country)

2008 winner: Olivia Mackenzie (Cross country)

2007 winner: Olivia Mackenzie (Cross country)

2006 winner: Mikayla Call (Soccer)

2005 winner: Abby Iselborn (Cross country)

2004 winner: Jill Johnson (Cross country)

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