This year, though, the parents’, uh, timing has been a blessing for Trafton and the Mustangs, who are the top seed in the Class C South and host No. 8 Wiscasset in the regional quarterfinals Wednesday.

Monmouth has three sets of sisters this year — Haley and Audrey Fletcher, Emily and Natalie Grandahl, and Izzy and Anna Lewis. All of them have played a role in the team’s 13-1-0 record.

The sibling chemistry can be an advantage for the Mustangs, Trafton said, especially since the sisters’ positions dictate that they stay fairly close together on the field.

“They’ve played with each other. They know each other’s little habits,” he said.

Perhaps more important to Trafton, the three younger sisters are part of large freshman contingent on the team, “so the other freshmen don’t get left out.”

“The great thing about having three sets of sisters is it’s brought the kids together,” said Trafton, who has eight freshmen on the roster. “The young kids hang around with their older sisters and they’re hanging out with each other so it brings them together. In past years, we’ve had a group here, a group there, and it’s a little more cliquish. But not this year.”

“We know them and get along with them well, so that brings our team together more, I think,” senior striker Haley Fletcher said.

“I don’t really feel like there’s a difference between the grades. It feels like we’re all one team right now,” freshman halfback Natalie Grandahl said. 

 The Fletchers spearhead a potent Monmouth attack that is averaging over five goals per game. Haley has been one of the Mustangs’ top scorers since her freshman year. While her game has evolved since then, she sees a lot of her old self in what Trafton refers to as Audrey’s “Energizer bunny” style. 

Audrey hasn’t just had her older sister for a role model. Both sisters grew up playing with and watching older brother, Kyle — now in his junior year at Thomas College — and father, Joe, who in his seventh season as Monmouth’s boys’ soccer coach has the Mustangs entering their tournament as the top seed.

Yet outside of regular backyard games, Haley and Audrey hadn’t played together before this year.

“We play a lot of pickup at our house, and usually we’re on the same team. So we know what we like,” Haley said. “It was pretty comfortable (playing together this season). It was just kind of natural to us.”

The Grandahl sisters, who are both halfbacks, have had some experience playing indoor soccer leagues together, but like the Fletchers, an older sibling preceded them in wearing the maroon-and-white.

Their older sister, Sammy, was a senior standout last year and played with Emily, who is now a junior, on the varsity for two years, as well as spring premier soccer. 

Emily and Natalie have not played organized soccer together. Yet there was still a sense of continuity for Emily, who moved from sweeper to center-halfback this year, because Natalie replaced Sammy on the left wing.

Emily, who like Haley Fletcher was a first-team all-MVC selection last year, is a key to Monmouth’s attack, controlling the tempo from the center-halfback position and communicating with her wings. Having a sibling to one side helps with that communication.

“It’s easier to talk to them because it’s your sister,” Emily Grandahl said. “And we know where we’re going to be on the field because we know how the other one plays.”

As much as the big sisters have tried to help the little sisters learn about playing at the varsity level this fall, they’ve been careful not to hover over them too much. 

“I have stepped in at times, but sometimes I’ll watch her and let her try to figure things out,” Izzy Lewis said.

Izzy has had to figure some things out on her own this year, too. After playing wing halfback at an all-conference level throughout her soccer career, she moved to stopper this season, helping to anchor a defense with nine shutouts this season.

Still, Anna, a wing halfback like her sister once was, is glad to have her nearby, and not just on the pitch.

“Having an older sister here is helping me figure out high school and high school soccer,” Anna Lewis said. “It’s so much fun.”

The real fun begins Wednesday with the start of the postseason. The older sisters know well what that means. The younger sisters have had a taste of what the playoff atmosphere is like, but there is really no way for the ones who have been through it to prepare the ones who have not.

“The (final regular season) game against Oak Hill was more like a playoff game, and I liked it,” Audrey said. “It’s going to be a little different than what I’m used to.”

“She’s pretty good under pressure,” Haley said, “so I don’t think it’s going to be a huge problem.”

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