Dexter Regional High School won’t field a boys varsity soccer team this fall, citing low participation numbers.

Roy Pelotte, the school’s athletic administrator and assistant principal, said no more than three players turned out for any practice during the first week of preseason workouts, prompting the decision to cancel the Tigers’ 2021 schedule.

Under Maine Principals’ Association rules, if a team cancels its schedule in a sport before the regular season starts it is eligible to resume varsity competition the following year. If a team is forced to cancel the remainder of its season after it has started playing regular-season games, it would be subject to a two-year suspension from varsity competition.

“We don’t have enough participants so we’re done with boys soccer for this year,” Pelotte said.

Pelotte added that participation numbers for the boys soccer program at the school have been low in recent years, including last fall when Dexter and other teams around the state played regionalized schedules with no MPA postseason play due to COVID-19.

“I think that probably if we had [tackle] football last year we wouldn’t have had soccer last year,” he said. “Last year we had three or four football players who went over to soccer after we didn’t have tackle football.”

The Dexter boys have struggled on the soccer pitch during the last decade of varsity competition, compiling a 35-103-6 record between 2010 and 2019.

The Tigers advanced to the Class C North quarterfinals three times during that span, most recently in 2018 when they finished 6-8 during the regular season and then won a preliminary-round contest before being ousted in the regional quarterfinals.

Soccer teams around the state are scheduled to resume a traditional regular-season schedule this year followed by regional and state championship postseason tournaments.

The regular season already is underway for schools in Aroostook County that observe a harvest break in September, and is set to begin Sept. 2 elsewhere in the state.

Dexter players could seek to join another school’s soccer program as cooperative individuals, but Pelotte said his school hopes to provide some non-varsity options for those players.

“What we’re trying to do is to get enough players to have modified JV games with other schools, and I’d like to try to incorporate some sort of at least a one-day a week indoor program,” he said.

Pelotte said the soccer future is brighter at the middle-school level as approximately 20 boys currently are participating in preseason practices at Ridge View Community School in Dexter.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...