Even though they haven’t won a state championship, the Hermon High School girls soccer team has been knocking on the door the past nine seasons.
The Hawks have produced an 18-7 record in Class B North playoff games and captured regional championships in 2012 and 2015.
After graduating 12 seniors — including seven starters — from last year’s 13-2-1 team that lost to Winslow in the Class B North semifinals, this would appear to be a rebuilding season for seventh-year head coach M.J. Ball.
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But thanks to the impact of five freshmen and the development of seven sophomores, the youthful Hawks have jumped out to a 4-0 start and appear to be a team that again will be competing for a regional title. They have outscored their opponents 17-4.
“They have been very dependable,” senior back Paige Plissey said of her younger teammates. “They have really filled their roles well.”
Ball said this is the youngest team he has had, but he added that 10 of the 12 freshmen and sophomores play soccer year-round between their high school and club teams.
“They play with heart, they have a high work ethic and they won’t settle for average. They want more. It’s an easy group to work with, and we have veteran leadership,” he said. “It is a fast team and a very fit team. They all worked extremely hard over the summer.”
Headlining the underclassmen is sophomore striker Sydney Gallop, who scored 26 goals and 18 assists en route to all-conference honors as a freshman. She already has seven goals and five assists this season.
“She’s special,” Ball said. “She’s very fast, she has muscular legs and what makes her special is she works harder than anybody else. She gets double-teamed, but she uses her strength to create space for herself. She’s also very unselfish. She could have scored 40 goals last season.”
Gallop has focused on becoming a better passer this season and continues to work on her strength. She was named a team captain, which is rare among sophomores.
“I was kind of nervous about that, but I just try to make sure everyone is all set,” Gallop said.
Freshman Lyndsee Reed joins her up front, and she has collected three goals and three assists.
“We do very well together. She reads passes very well,” Gallop said.
Senior Grace Page, an all-conference selection, anchors the midfield where she is joined by freshmen Michaela Saulter and Allison Cameron.
Ball said Saulter and Cameron are “very comfortable with the ball at their feet.”
Seniors Mackenzie White and Madison Baker are the starting outside backs.
Emily Treat, Natasha Cowan, Leah Thibeault-Myatt and Ashley Cote provide quality depth in the midfield.
Sophomore Madison Higgins, who earned all-conference honors as a freshman, Plissey and freshman Allyson Coxson comprise the Hawks’ back line. Elizabeth Wyman, Kamry Morin and Charlotte Caron can all supply solid minutes off the bench.
Megan Tracy, a 5-foot-11 sophomore who missed all of last season due to knee surgery, starts in goal with junior Ryan Vegiard backing her up.
“Even though we’re young, we have a lot of players who are versatile and can play different positions,” Ball said. “We can plug players in and give them experience. Depth is a big strength this year.”
Page and Plissey would like nothing better than to cap their final season at Hermon with a state championship.
“It’s our time,” Plissey said.