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Rally at UMFK celebrates great success of fall sports teams

FORT KENT, Maine — Members of the national champion University of Maine at Fort Kent Bengals women’s soccer team were escorted by local police and firefighters Wednesday to a welcome rally at the student lounge on campus.

The team won its fifth straight United States Collegiate Athletic Association national title on Monday at a tournament in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Team captains Kendra Freund and Catherine Bruno carried the USCAA 2017 title trophy with them in the cab of the fire department’s rescue vehicle as it and a police cruiser led a UMFK bus filled with their teammates from the gym, around town and back to campus.

Back at the Bengals Lair, students, faculty and supporters from the community celebrated not only the success of the women’s soccer team, but also the accomplishments of all the school’s fall sports teams.

“It’s been a great fall season for UMFK sports,” men’s soccer coach and athletic director Bill Ashby told those gathered in the lounge.

Ashby mentioned the women’s volleyball team had its best season ever, advancing to the USCAA final four in Virginia this year, for the first time in school history.

His own men’s soccer team once again reached the final four at the USCAA tournament, but fell in the semifinal round. It was the first time since the 2012 season that the team did not play in the national title game.

Ashby also commented on the support that the players showed one another, even across sports. On their off day during the Virginia Beach tourney, players with the men’s and women’s soccer squads asked to go watch the volleyball team play.

The stands were rocking thanks to the UMFK soccer players, Ashby said. Parents of the opposing team also praised the players for their display of school spirit.

“It’s one big team,” Ashby said.

Volleyball head coach Jessany Munoz said she was “super proud,” to have the support of the soccer players during that match.

“It was really a family affair last week,” she said.

Ashby added that the campus was well represented by both the play and behavior of all the UMFK players wherever they went.

UMFK President John Short said UMFK athletes displayed “exemplary team spirit,” and congratulated them on both their athletic and academic achievements.

Women’s soccer head coach Lawrence Simpson, who came in part way into the season after former coach Lucas Levesque left for another job, expressed his thanks to the campus and wider Fort Kent community for being so welcoming.

Simpson said it did not take long for him and his players to gel and find a winning formula.

“This is a great group of girls,” said Simpson.

The UMFK winter sports season already has kicked off, with the UMFK men’s basketball team winning its opening home matchup, 104-94, against the University of Maine Augusta on Nov. 12. The team is 3-4 overall so far. The women’s team is 0-2 after losing to UMA, also on Nov. 12.

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