August 27, 2004
The University of Maine at Fort Kent men's and women's soccer teams begin their seasons with high hopes and new expectations. Both teams will look to feed off of last years' success.
Last season the women made it to their first ever Sunrise Conference final losing to Lyndon State College and the men won the Conference final defeating the College of Saint Joseph of Vermont. Since then, both teams have experienced significant changes and are excited to get back to work with the start of the season only two weeks away.
The men lost much of their scoring punch, losing the Sunrise Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Juan Murphy, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and striker Andrew Clavette, of Madawaska, to graduation.
Scoring is the major concern for Coach Melik Khoury's Bengals who have been regulars atop the conference in team and individual scoring over his three year reign on the sidelines. The positive is that the Bengals return the core of their defense, led by junior keeper Nicholas Thibodeau, of St. Francis, and backs Charlie Bard, of Fort Kent, and 2003 conference second-team member Derrick Cooper, of Madawaska.
Coach Khoury looks to bolster his offense with youth and depth as he has added another impressive recruiting class to the Bengals this year. He will also look to Donatas Sumyla, of Vilnius, Lithuania, to step up into a more significant role on the team.
Similar to the men, the women face many challenges offensively. The Lady Bengals lost UMFK all-time leading scorer Jess Gagnon and the school's assist leader Megan Foreman to graduation. It is the end of an era for the Fort Kent duo, who both began playing for UMFK four years ago as freshman.
Lucas Levesque, a high school star at Fort Kent Community High School and at Thomas College takes over for Eric Werntgen as head coach. Coach Levesque is eager to take the program to the next level.
The ladies return valuable experience and defensive presence in senior Angela Flanagin, of Perham, Maine, a tough versatile player capable of controlling play in the middle of the field, and junior sweeper Sara Quint, of Hodgdon, Maine, who was a second team all conference selection a year ago.
The question marks lie in the offensive void left by Gagnon and Foreman, but could be answered in part with the return of forward Kristine Cyr, of Madawaska, who missed all of last season with a knee injury after a stellar freshmen campaign in 2002 when she was named to the conference second team.
Only time will tell for both squads as they hit the pitch for the next two weeks. The men and women will open their season September 4 and 5 hosting the Bengal Kick-Off Tourney. The women will face Atlantic Baptist University, and the men begin their title defense against Sunrise Conference opponent Lyndon State College.
To view the entire soccer schedule visit the Bengal team sites located at http://www.umfk.maine.edu/athletics/intrcolgt.