ROCKPORT, Maine — The Camden Hills boys soccer team was a little bit wary about its offensive potential during preseason practices.
That may be misplaced concern.
Senior forward Josiah Simko scored three goals for the second straight match, while the Windjammers’ defense posted its second consecutive shutout as the three-time defending Eastern Maine Class B champions defeated Medomak Valley of Waldoboro 6-0 on Tuesday at Don Palmer Field.
Simko supplied all his offense during the first half, all on assists from Jack Gallagher as Camden Hills built a 3-0 lead. The Windjammers got second-half goals from Bill Bracher, Max Pushaw and an own goal scored by Medomak Valley that was credited to Camden Hills’ Kieran Lydon.
Camden Hills has outscored its opposition by a combined 16-0 during its 2-0 start.
“The first half, we didn’t move the ball well, but in the second half, we picked it up and moved the ball better,” said junior midfielder Josh Pitcairn, who teamed with Josiah Krul to set up Pushaw’s goal.
“At first we thought we weren’t going to score that many goals because we weren’t finishing well in practice. But then as the season goes on, people step up, we get our touch back, and we start playing our game.”
Senior goalie Adam Throne made two saves on six Medomak Valley shots to preserve the shutout, while Medomak Valley’s Noah Beck made six saves on 21 Camden Hills shots.
Medomak Valley (0-1-1) was not without its own scoring bids, as sophomore forward Zidane McMurrin threatened twice in the opening minutes of the match — once hitting the crossbar — then hit the crossbar again a minute into the second half.
“Offensively it was pretty good in the first half,” said Camden Hills coach Ryan Hurley. ”Defensively we didn’t have one of our better efforts, but we talked at halftime, and I thought we definitely played better in the second half.”
Camden Hills is 49-4-3 overall since the start of its run of Eastern Maine championships in 2011 — with three of the losses one-goal decisions in each of the last three state finals.
“We’re right there, and we’ve been there every year we’ve attended,” said Simko, who transferred to Camden Hills from John Bapst of Bangor last year. “And joining the program more recently, I can say that even I’m pretty hungry for it, so I can’t even imagine how much these guys want it.”
Camden Hills has a different look this year after graduating 11 seniors from last year’s 16-1-1 squad, but a younger roster with just six seniors and seven juniors does not necessarily translate into a rebuilding scenario.
“We have five or six seniors, but the bulk of the team is juniors and sophomores with one freshman that played today,” said Hurley. “The nice thing is they are young, but they are experienced. A lot of them have played in big games, and they’ve played a lot of travel ball, so they’re used to playing in fast-paced games, and they’ve seen good competition.”
Bracher compares the early stages of this season to 2012, when despite having lost a large senior class to graduation, the Windjammers powered their way to a second straight regional title.
“We had a young team but still made it to states,” he said. “We fought through, we played, practiced and won games. We finished and moved on. This year it’s the same situation. We have a returning defense, we have a returning midfield; it’s really just the offense that’s changed and so far, it’s been working great.”
Whether the offense will continue to flourish and help Camden Hills return to yet another state championship match in an effort to become the first Eastern Maine team to win the Class B boys soccer state crown since 1993 won’t be known for nearly two months.
But since the school’s most recent graduation day in June, the level of optimism within the team has grown steadily.
“From last year, we were saying we probably won’t be able to do it this year,” said Simko, “but as we started progressing this year and as we started playing, we started to realize that we have a chance and if we put all of our resources toward it, we can perform well and pull through.”