PARIS — It wasn’t the kind of year the Oxford Hills girls’ soccer team was expecting.

After one of their best seasons ever in 2011, the Vikings had high hopes for last year.

They won just three games.

“Two years ago when they made it to the playoffs, they had a fantastic season, and were expecting the same last year,” said coach Chad Truman, who was the JV coach last fall. “But it just never panned out. I think that year of experience and most of the girls coming back really paid off this season.”

The great results that were expected didn’t come last fall but arrived this season. The Vikings finished the year 8-4-2 and fifth in Eastern A.

“The goal was to build on the three wins,” Truman said. “So when we set goals as a team, the mark was seven wins. So I think we’ve far exceeded what I had hoped.”

The Vikings had the core of the club back this year. Seniors Haylee Chute and Bry Starbird returned to the midfield while Ellex Loper and Coley Zufelt were up front. Kira Dube was back to lead a veteran defense that included juniors Lauren Emery, Savanna Morin and Paige Garcia. Sophomore Sam Bickford was back in net while Mikayla Morin, an all-star junior midfielder, was also a proven upperclassman.

“We wanted to really do well after only winning three games last year,” said Mikayla Morin. “We just realized how much talent we had. We just kind of took advantage of it. We’ve been able to get a few wins and put ourselves in a good spot for the playoffs.”

Oxford Hills will play at Brunswick next Tuesday in the quarterfinals.  The Dragons won the regular season matchup 2-0 and defeated the Vikings the last time Oxford Hills was in the tournament.

“We just want to keep playing smart,” said Zufelt. “We play really good together. We want to keep that bond and play as a team. We want to go in confident but not overly confident.”

The Vikings had some adjustments to make when the season started. Truman was the new head coach. Though he’d been with the team, it still required some transition.

“It was completely different,” Zufelt said. “Most of the girls had been coached by him but half of us had not. We all just transitioned into his coaching style. In the season opener, we beat Mt. Blue. That was a huge eye opener for us. We were like, ‘This season is going to be great.'”

The Vikings started the year 2-0-2. That included the 2-1 win over the Cougars and a 0-0 tie with Hampden.

“That win over Mt. Blue really set the tone,” Truman said. “I don’t remember the last time we won our first game. They immediately started to believe. Then a 0-0 tie with Hampden really built their confidence.”

The team’s only losses this year were to Bangor, Mt. Ararat, Brunswick and a stumble against Skowhegan. They finished the regular season with three wins in four games, including a pair of shutouts.

“It’s been really good,” Morin said. “I think everyone has been realizing how good we can be. We’re all kind of experiencing the wins that we were experiencing our freshmen and sophomore years.”

In addition to the added experience and the greater confidence, the Vikings have managed to work together well as a team to finish off the competitive games it couldn’t a year ago.

“We have a lot of versatility this year,” Zufelt said. “He can switch us around so we’re getting more experience as we’re playing. That’s a lot different then last year. We had just straight starters and subs. It’s really good for all the players on the team.”

Also in Eastern A, eighth-seeded Mt. Blue (5-6-3) will host Lawrence in a prelim Friday. Sixth-ranked Edward Little (9-5) will play at Hampden in next week’s quarterfinals.

In Class B, Leavitt and Poland will each host prelim matchups. The Hornets (5-7-2) finished seventh and will host Lincoln Academy. Poland (6-8) was eighth and hosts Spruce Mountain (9-5).

St. Dom’s claimed the top spot in Western C at 12-1-1. They’ll host the winner of the ninth-ranked Monmouth (8-5-1) at NYA prelim. Mt. Abram (5-8-1) and Lisbon (6-8) also have prelims. The Roadrunners will play at Waynflete while the Greyhounds are at Wiscasset.

In Western D, Buckfield (8-4-2) took the third seed while Rangeley (5-1-3) finished fifth.

In the boys’ standings, Lewiston claimed second in Eastern A at 11-1-2 and will host Messalonskee in the quarterfinals next week. Edward Little (8-3-3) finished fifth and plays at Mt. Ararat.

Mt. Blue (6-8) was seeded eighth and hosts Oxford Hills (5-9) in a prelim game Friday.

In Western B, Spruce Mountain (7-6-1) earned the sixth spot but will play a quarterfinal at third-seeded York.

In the prelims, Gray-New Gloucester (5-7-2) will host Poland (3-9-2).

St. Dom’s (12-1-1) finished fourth and hosts a quarterfinal against Mt. Abram (11-3). Monmouth (9-5) will play a prelim at Sacopee Valley. Lisbon (6-6-2) also has a prelim at Waynflete this weekend.

In Western D, Buckfield finished 6-7-1 and earned the fifth seed.

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