Some high school sports teams enter a new season as the proverbial hunted, their recent success having demanded the attention of rivals. Other squads, meanwhile, are simply part of the chase.

Count the Brunswick girls soccer team amongst the former.

“A lot of people wouldn’t want that pressure,” said senior midfielder Kynli Van Leer. “But we’re ready for it.”

Monday marked the first day of the fall sports season, as teams around the state opened practice.

The Dragons are coming off a stellar 2021 campaign, having reached the Class A title game, where it dropped a 3-1 decision to Windham. Brunswick finished 15-3.

Coach Martyn Davison returns an abundance of players from that squad, making it a state contender once again.


“We had a phenomenal year last year,” he said. “We’re excited to go back out and try to do it again, with some luck. It’s exciting to be back out here again. We’re ready to go.”

Added senior defender Ella Gustafson: “We want it again. We want to work even harder, to go even farther.”

The Dragons, like most teams in a variety of sports, held two practices Monday, one in the early morning and another later in the day.

Conditioning dominated the early agenda.

Members of the Brunswick girls soccer team run during a season-opening practice Monday morning in Brunswick. Bill Stewart/Kennebec Journal

“We come in and just get them going,” said Davison, whose squad upended Bangor in the Class A North final last season. “We’ve had a great summer season, so we’re in good shape, but it’s good to come in and get going.”

Added senior Sophia Morin: “We were second best in the state last year. We have a lot of new faces and a lot of returning players. We have a good group. We’re excited to go.”



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The Richmond boys soccer team graduated just two players from a squad that reached the Class D South semifinals last fall.

Coach Peter Gardner said expectations are high this year, as 24 players came out Monday.

“Basically, all the kids are back,” he said.


Gardner added that he emphasizes conditioning in the early going as well.

“Our morning sessions, they are all conditioning,” he said. “There is no ball work. For the next six days, in the morning it will be fitness training. The reason we do that is because it’s obvious that a kid’s ability to play the game breaks down as they get tired. In the (second session), we’ll do two-man drills, three-man drills, and just build from there.

The Richmond girls soccer team will host a preseason play day on Aug. 20 while the boys will host one on Aug. 27.


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The Morse field hockey team had just 13 players at its season-opening practice Monday morning.

“We had two missing, but, yes, our numbers are pretty low,” said coach Kerri Reno. “The biggest hit is that we won’t have a JV team this fall. That’s a big deal because it’s at the junior varsity level where you build that confidence. We are going to have to be conscious of all of this. Attendance, injuries and eligibility are all in play for us.”

Reno attributed the low turnout to the coronavirus pandemic impacting middle school sports.

Morse field hockey seniors Sophia Barber, right, and Dylan Barr pose after practice Monday in Bath. Bill Stewart/The Times Record

The Shipbuilders went 7-7-2 in 2021 and reached the Class B south quarterfinals.

Seniors Sophia Barber and Dylan Barr return to lead the squad.

“We do have just about the same team as we had last year,” Barber said. “We feel we can still be pretty good.”


Added Barr, who will continue her field hockey career at Division II Limestone University in Gaffney, South Carolina: “We’re excited for the season to start. We just want to continue to get better.”


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Mt. Ararat coaches Frank True (football) and Krista Chase (field hockey) acknowledge they get little to no sleep the night before opening practices.

“I think I was up at 3 a.m.,” said True, whose Eagles opened practice at 7:30 Monday morning. “I couldn’t sleep, and all of us coaches were messaging each other then, too. I got to the school probably 5:30 or 5:45. There was a little crisp in the air. It’s just an exciting time to be a coach.”


Added Chase: “I just don’t sleep the night before our first practice. It’s mostly because I’m excited but also because I’m nervous. I’m nervous because I want to be the best coach I can for these kids. The first day of practice, it’s like Christmas morning; you’re excited to get up but also to see if you forgot anything.”

The Mt. Ararat field hockey and football programs shared the school’s turf field Monday morning.

Mt. Ararat senior Belle Hemond prepares to hit the ball during a season-opening practice Monday morning in Topsham. Bill Stewart/Kennebec Journal

“We get after it right away,” said Eagles senior field hockey standout Belle Hemond. “We want to set the tone on the first day.”

Added junior Phoebe Fitzpatrick: “It’s good to come out here and see us working hard. It’s also tough because we know that no matter how hard we work (Monday) it won’t be what we can fully do once we get into the season.”

The Mt. Ararat field hockey team reached the Class A North semifinals last season, where it lost to Oxford Hills.

“I think we can go even farther this year,” said senior goalie Piper Cohen.

The MTA football team is also coming off a strong 2021 season, having reached the Eight Man Large School South championship game. Cheverus defeated the Eagles 48-0 en route to winning the Eight Man Large School state crown.

“We have a lot of new players out,” said True. “We have 15, 16 freshmen out. We’ll spend a lot of time going over the basics and get everyone up to speed.”


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