Auburn, ME - The 2018 Lady Mustangs soccer season began with the biggest roster in recent history at 19 total players. Ten returning players, including senior three-time team MVP and 2017 All Conference selection Megan Duval, one red-shirt freshman transfer, plus eight incoming freshman. Preseason began with a program first, an invitation to a preseason jamboree at NHTI where the Mustangs played three short games against Thomas College, New England College, and Plymouth State University, all NCAA Div III teams.
The team played an increased game schedule from 2017, 12 games plus 2 exhibitions, a pre-season jamboree, and a first-time ever playoff game. Due to the uncertainty of the construction timetable for the new athletic complex, the schedule saw twice as many away games than home games and the Lady Mustangs logged a total of 3,266 miles for 10 road games. They played three sets of back to back games, each one having both games being played in a less-than-24-hour timeframe, and had a string of 5 games over an 8 day period. It was an extremely difficult schedule and the Mustangs handled it very well, without complaint.
Goalkeeping duties were split throughout the season between returning sophomore keeper, 2017 All-Conference selection, and team captain Ali Sult (Lisbon, ME), and freshman Skyler Henry (Waterford, CT). The defensive unit was again anchored by sophomore captain Keara Hunter (Wiscasset, ME) at center back, joined by freshmen Thea Quick (Buckfield, ME) and Marah Hall (Madison, ME) in a three-back set-up and when switching to a four-back formation added senior Megan Duval (Jay, ME), junior Dakota Goguen (Fairfield, ME), who also played a key role as a center midfielder. The Mustang defensive unit lowered the team goals against average from 2017, in spite of an increased game schedule.
The Mustangs played a mid-field driven formation and had good speed on both sides of the field using a rotation at the two outside midfield positions of sophomore Tabie Tlumac (Readfield, ME), freshmen Katelynn Greene (Poland, ME) and Cassidy Hart (Buckfield, ME). The center midfield is the engine that drives the train and a rotation of multiple players was used which included juniors Deliah Schreiber (Lisbon, ME) and Ellie Jasper (Peru, ME), sophomores Abby Fogg (Buckfield, ME), team captain Stephanie Jones (Wiscasset, ME), and freshmen Rachel Dunn (Marshfield, MA), Savannah Fisher (Lisbon, ME), Aimee Horne (Brunswick, ME), and Najma Ali (Lewiston, ME).
Goal scoring responsibilities at the forward position fell to red-shirt freshman transfer Samantha Belardo (Russell, MA) and Schreiber. Belardo tied the Lady Mustangs single season scoring record of 9 goals, 3 assists set last year by Duval.
Although their overall record of 5 wins, 8 losses was not as good as 2017, their conference record was the same at 4 wins, 3 losses and this time it was good enough to earn 4th place and a spot in the YSCC Final Four Tournament for the first time in program history. They played top-ranked NHTI on a cold, rainy day and although they lost 2-0, it was the best game they ever played against them. Before the semi-final game, Keara Hunter and Samantha Belardo both received awards for being named All-Conference Selections. The 2018 season was another step forward for the women's soccer program, who will continue to raise the bar as they begin working on 2019.