Andy Higgins, the Yarmouth High girls’ soccer coach, knows it will not be easy for his team to repeat as the Class B state champion. He also knows if it’s not his team hoisting the Gold Ball on Nov. 4, there’s a very good chance it will be a team with whom the Clippers are very familiar.

Yarmouth plays in the Western Maine Conference, and for longer than any current players in the league have been alive, the conference has held a near perfect grip on the Class B girls’ soccer state crown.

Twenty of the last 21 Class B girls’ soccer state champions have come out of the Western Maine Conference. The one break in that two-decade pattern came in 2014, when Waterville of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference beat Cape Elizabeth, 1-0 in overtime. You have to go back to 1996 and 1997 to find back-to-back seasons in which the Class B champ came out of the East/North bracket, when Mount View and Mt. Desert Island each won a title.

“I think our conference is so deep and so tough, you’re really battle tested when you get to the playoffs. We see a level of competition every day that maybe not every team (in other conferences) sees,” said Higgins, whose team rallied from an early two-goal deficit in the state final last season to take a 3-2 double overtime win over Hermon.

The 20 state titles won by WMC schools over the last 21 season (there was no state tournament in 2020 because of the pandemic) are spread among six schools. Falmouth won eight (2001-02, 2005-06, 2008, 2010-12) before moving on to Class A. Gorham took the 2004 title before it moved up to Class A. Yarmouth (2003, 2016-17, 2022) and Cape Elizabeth (2013, 2018-19, 2021) each have four state championships over the stretch. York (2007, 2009) won a pair, and Greely (2015) won one.

“We’re all so neck and neck,” said Greely Coach Rachel Williams.


None of the other three classes have seen such dominance from one region in state championship games. As for why the MVC’s Class B teams have shined so brightly on the biggest stage, there are a few reasons. At some of the traditionally strong programs, soccer has long been the marquee sport. Drive past sports field in the fall in towns like Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth – which have combined to win the last six Class B state titles – and you’re apt to see them filled with youth soccer players, said Nick Hanlon, the girls’ soccer coach at York.

“In communities like Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth, in particular, soccer isn’t just another sport on the high school calendar. It’s a way of life,” said Hanlon, whose team reached the Class B South final last season.

Hanlon pointed out that some of the top players in the conference in recent years, including Yarmouth’s Ava Feeley (now at Boston College) and Maggie Cochran of Cape Elizabeth (Northeastern University) are playing at the NCAA Division I level. So are other recent players in the league, such as Cape Elizabeth’s Emily Supple (Bryant) and Wells’ Emma Badger (Boston College last year, now Florida Gulf Coast).

“When those players get into state games, they’re tough to shut down,” Hanlon said.

Access to high-level soccer clubs is also a factor. A number of students who attend Western Maine Conference schools are able to play year-round soccer for clubs based in southern Maine, including Seacoast United, Maine Lightning and Southern Maine FC.

“A lot of these players play together in the offseason. That creates a dynamic that’s tough to match. I think our league has the most club players in the state,” Williams said.


Williams added that it also helps to have three-sport athletes, and not just players who focus entirely on soccer. Hanlon echoed that sentiment, pointing at the number of players on his York squad who have benefited from also being on the school’s state championship track and field team.

“We have so many three-sport athletes playing high school soccer, and our team is as gritty as hell,” Williams said.

Higgins said the fact that many players in the conference play soccer at a high level in the offseason can only help the overall strength of the Western Maine Conference. He also noted that the league has several strong rivalries, and said teams push each other to be at their best throughout the season.

“They form a lot of friendships on the field, and that’s among the coaches, too. The rivalries are still there, but when the game’s over, it’s over. It’s a hug and a handshake and we move on,” Higgins said.

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