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Three cheers to our local soccer teams

The resolve and work ethic of Aroostook County residents is well-known throughout the state. It is something of a badge of honor to say you hail from “The County” when speaking with people downstate.

Living in Aroostook County brings a sense of pride and accomplishment that sticks with a person for the rest of their lives.

Maybe it is the long, cold winters we endure? Perhaps it is the lovely mud and blackfly seasons we must get through in the spring and summer? Or maybe it is the fact that we must travel vast distances to reach major metropolitan areas for large shopping malls, concerts or sporting events?

That strong work ethic also extends to high school sports as our athletes often must endure long bus rides to face competition “downstate.” 

Case in point is the recently completed fall soccer season. Aroostook County was well represented in the regional soccer playoffs as 26 teams out of possible 65 playoff squads for Classes B, C and D hailed from The County.

Think about that one for a minute. Forty percent of all the playoff teams for what the MPA considers the “Northern” Region for Classes B, C and D came from Aroostook County. That is quite an impressive accomplishment.

Three of those squads — the Caribou boys, Fort Kent girls and Central Aroostook boys — advanced all the way to the state championship for their respective divisions. That meant even greater travel for two of those three teams as the neutral site selected for Caribou and Fort Kent was Falmouth High School.

Fort Kent faced Traip Academy of Kittery for the state title, coming up short 3-0. For Traip Academy, the trip was a short one-hour, 55-mile ride for them, while the Warriors had to endure a grueling five-hour, 311-mile trip to reach the game. To help with this trip, the Warriors went down the day before the game and wound up spending two nights in a hotel due to the late nature of the championship game.

Caribou also had a bit of a haul for its matchup against Yarmouth. That game also was played at Falmouth High School, which is a mere seven miles between the two schools and likely allowed for many more fans of the Yachtsmen to attend than the Vikings. Caribou lost that contest 3-1 in a hard-fought game.

The Central Aroostook boys had a much shorter trip for their state championship, traveling roughly 150 miles for their contest. The Panthers defeated North Yarmouth Academy 2-1 for the school’s first-ever boys state soccer title. The team celebrated with a parade through town Saturday evening and held a reception at the high school on Monday evening to commemorate the marvelous accomplishment.

The Panthers’ triumph is even more impressive when factoring in their opponent, a perennial powerhouse on the soccer field. A private school, whose mascot is also the Panthers, NYA was regularly a playoff contender in the larger Class C division before dropping down to Class D, and proved to be every bit as advertised. NYA took an early 1-0 lead, forcing CA to rally for the dramatic victory.

Congratulations to all of our area sports teams on another fantastic season. Your hard work and determination has paid dividends. 

Joseph Cyr is the assistant editor for The Star-Herald, Aroostook Republican, Houlton Pioneer Times and St. John Valley Times, plus websites TheCounty.ME and FiddleheadFocus.com. He can be reached at jcyr@bangordailynews.com or (207) 532-2281.

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