SOUTH BERWICK — Yes, 13 seniors graduated from Marshwood High’s 2021 Class A state championship boys’ soccer team. And seven of them were starters.

But that isn’t keeping the Hawks from believing they can be right in the thick of what is annually a deep group of Class A contenders – and maybe even pull off a rare back-to-back state championship.

“They definitely are thinking about it,” said Marshwood Coach Ben Deschene. “We’re not as deep this year, so we’re kind of keeping our fingers crossed we don’t get the issue with injuries to set us back. But we feel it. We know there’s a possibility.”

To win this year means starting afresh.

“We’re not going to try to recreate last year’s team,” said senior striker Wyatt Yager. “We’ve got new players, only a handful of returning players. It’s a whole new team, but definitely some good players. We’re just going to work on finding our strengths and putting together a good team.”

The Hawks have about 70 percent of their goal scoring back with Yager, who excels at keeping the ball at his feet and getting off shots in traffic, ultra-speedy wing Rowan Carter and Declan Fitzgerald, a sturdy forward with “a really good shot, kind of a cannon,” Deschene said.


The other returning starter is defender Jason Singer, who will move from an outside back to the center of the field. While Deschene is worried about Marshwood’s depth, Singer sees it differently.

“A lot of the players that were on JV last year, they were good enough that they could have played, but we just had so many seniors that they didn’t have the chance,” Singer said. “They might not have proven it at the varsity level, but we know there’s a lot of people who can play.

“We know we can be one of the top teams in the state again, and having that motivation just makes us want to work harder so we can get there again,” Singer added.

In 2021, the Hawks went 16-2-1 and beat Brunswick, 2-1, on Connor Sullivan’s late goal in the state final. It was Marshwood’s first Class A title, and its first state championship since winning back-to-back Class B crowns in 1994-95. Marshwood became the first York County school to win a Class A boys’ soccer championship.

“It’s nice to finally beat the teams from up North,” Fitzgerald said. “The south (teams) sometimes get the butt end of the joke, like, ‘Oh, they never win.’ It’s nice to finally represent southern York County.”

The fourth-seeded Hawks’ depth was a key factor in their run through the South regional, which started with a 4-1 win against No. 13 Noble and continued with wins against perennial Cumberland County powers Falmouth (3-2), No. 1 Windham (3-0) and No. 7 Gorham (2-0).


In the early days of preseason, developing players who can support the four returning starters is a point of emphasis, Deschene said.

Junior midfielders James Melino and Milo Clossun will be the center midfielders. They’ll be trying to fill the void left by all-New England and Varsity Maine All-State player Trevor Wozny, who was a superb ball winner and distributor with scoring ability.

“There is a bit (of pressure), but I’ve been playing with these guys who are going to be on the team my whole life,” said Melino, who played varsity minutes last year as a reserve. “I’m pretty confident in their skills and I believe we’ll be able to have a lot of success this season.”

Winning back-to-back in Class A is not easy. Since 2000, only Scarborough (2008-09 and 2012-13) and Lewiston (2017-18) have pulled it off.

“We think we’ll have a good team,” Yager said. “Nothing’s ever guaranteed, but we’re liking how it’s turning out. We know there’s some good contenders in this state. There always is.”

Deschene said he’s already seen small signs of growth in Marshwood’s overall program in the year after the championship. Participation numbers are up. There’s a bit more buzz about soccer in a school that has history as a football powerhouse. And, more of the program’s younger players joined club teams this past spring to sharpen skills.

The Hawks also will carry the target that comes with being the defending state champions. That’s OK, Singer said. It’s a sign of respect.

“Beforehand, no one really thought of Marshwood as one of the elite programs, but I think with what we did last year, they’ll be looking forward to our games and preparing for them more,” Singer said.

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