ELLSWORTH — An offseason of constant back-and-forth left Kylie Robidoux wondering if she’d even get to play her senior year of soccer.
Robidoux, the starting goalkeeper for the Ellsworth girls’ team, has long been anxious to return to the field after missing all of last year due to an injury. Yet as weeks and months passed with seemingly no clarity on what the 2020 season might look like, it was far from unreasonable to believe one wouldn’t materialize.
“I was definitely worried that it wouldn’t happen for a little bit,” Robidoux said. “Not being able to play was really hard, so it was always going to be extra special for me to be back out on the field with my teammates.”
Fortunately, with summer officially turning to fall, Robidoux and her fellow Eagles are finally back with one another on the Del Luce Stadium grass. It might not be the year any of them expected, but after a long and chaotic offseason, an Ellsworth senior class that’s been together for some time is looking to make the most of the chance it’s been given.
At 12 members strong, Ellsworth boasts what is one of its deepest, most experienced senior classes in years. Ten of those 12 are returnees from last season’s junior-heavy team, which gave the program its first playoff win since 2012 when it defeated Foxcroft 3-0 in the Class B North preliminary round.
Offensively, the Eagles are led by Sierra Andrews, who scored a team-best 10 goals last year as a junior. Andrews’ nine goals in the second half of the season included braces against George Stevens Academy, Caribou and Maine Central Institute and a one-goal, one-assist effort in the prelim win over Foxcroft.
Among Ellsworth’s other senior leaders are Samantha Carter, who scored four goals last year, Hannah Richardson and Lexi Rossi, who tallied one goal each, Robidoux, Samantha Higgins, Sara Shea and Kayla Duhaime. Duhaime, who shared time with Autumn Paul at goalkeeper last year, will return to her traditional role in midfield with Robidoux back in net.
“For us seniors, so many of us have been playing on the exact same team all the way since YMCA soccer and basketball,” Andrews said. “I think we really connect well, and now that we’re finally seniors and have a chance to play, I think it’s just going to push us that much harder.”
Ellsworth also has a dynamic junior duo in Paige Sawyer (eight goals and five assists last year) and Addi Laslie (six goals and five assists). Between her large crop of seniors, reliable juniors and a batch of sophomores that includes Morgan Clifford (two goals in 2019) and Jordan Berry, head coach Katye Lacasse is confident the Eagles can take another step forward in 2020.
“I think this is the most positive attitude we’ve had around our program in a really long time,” Lacasse said. “I think all of our underclassmen are really excited for these seniors that [this season] was able to happen, and they’re ready to go out and play for each other.”
For a large senior class, the thought of losing an entire season — especially the last one together in Ellsworth uniforms — was an uneasy one. Even Lacasse had doubts as to whether a season would take place as the passing of the buck between state agencies and the Maine Principals’ Association resulted in the start of practices being delayed twice.
Andrews, though, maintained an optimistic outlook throughout the process. Between the Ellsworth community’s displays of support and Athletic Director Josh Frost’s input as chairman of the MPA Soccer Committee, the Eagles’ top scorer never lost faith that she and her fellow seniors would be able to play their final season.
“I was confident that we’d have something because I knew the community would fight for us and that Mr. Frost would fight for us,” Andrews said. “We’re thankful for that, and as seniors, we’re just going to try and make the season whatever it can be. It’s not what we hoped, obviously, but the biggest thing is that we’re out here playing and doing what we love.”
Ellsworth is slated to play its first games next week, though specific times and dates for the team’s 2020 contests have yet to be made available. The Eagles’ schedule will consist solely of local opponents in abidance with MPA guidelines on regional scheduling.
With no postseason play this year, Ellsworth will not be able to better last year’s trip to the regional quarterfinals. Yet with games against regional opponents set to put bragging rights on the line, the Eagles still have an ambitious goal in mind for the season ahead.
“We can be the best team in Hancock County,” Lacasse said. “That’s our goal this year, and we’re really excited about that opportunity. It’s hard to not have that chance to compete [in the playoffs] because I really think this would have been a year for us to show what we’re all about, but I still think we’re going to take advantage of this and do great.”