Edward Little High School seniors, left to right, Lauren Berube, Grace Beaudet and Piper Norcross hope to get back to the state championship game this year and win it all.

AUBURN — At a school the size of Edward Little High School, making it onto a varsity team as a freshman normally is no easy task. But that’s what Lauren Berube, Piper Norcross and Grace Beaudet did as first-year players in the Red Eddies girls’ soccer program.

Not only that, but the trio played a role on a team that made it all the way to the state championship game. Ever since, they’ve been trying to get back there, but have had their seasons ended in the regional semifinals the past two years.

“Our goal every year is to go to the state championship,” Berube said. “As freshmen, we had a very good team connection. As seniors, this is our last chance for it and I hope we can do it this year.”

“This senior crew is on a mission,” EL coach Craig Latuscha said. “They don’t like to lose. They’ve had an unbelievable record since the start, and they were fortunate enough to start as freshmen and make it all the way. That’s always been their goal every year since that particular freshmen year.”

The key to that EL team that lost to Windham in the 2014 Class A state championship: hard work.

“We definitely had a very skilled group of ladies my freshman year. It was very competitive between playing time with everybody because there was a lot of us who deserved it,” Norcross said. “I think a lot of it came with hard work.”

“It’s not necessarily always skill. Hard work pays off,” Latuscha said. “We had a lot of heart that year. Of course we had some pretty talented players, but I think heart won out in a lot of those games.”

No regular-season games have been played, but the trio thinks this year’s team could be just as hard-working as that 2014 team.

“This is probably one of the most hard-working teams I’ve been on since my freshman year,” Norcross said.

“Now we’re in the role of pushing the younger kids, kind of like what we saw our freshmen year,” Beaudet said.

The Red Eddies graduated 10 players from last year’s team, so the trio of four-year players — along with three more veteran seniors — will be tasked with taking on that leadership role.

“They’ve played some really big games,” Latuscha said. “If we can be successful enough to make the playoffs this year, I think when we get to the playoffs I don’t think that fear factor is going to let into them. I think they know, they’ve been there, they’ve done it.”

“We have to be role models to them, show them how you work in practice, how you’re attitude is supposed to be every day and how committed you should be in order to get (to the championship),” Norcross said.

The trio not only has that freshmen season to take lessons from, but all the veterans have consecutive losses to Bangor in the Class A North semifinals as motivation.

“It’s frustrating, but it just gives us something to work towards,” Berube said.

“We have little goals throughout the season, like beating Lewiston,” Berube added. “Also, trying to get a home-seed playoff game. That’s another one of our normal goals.”

“Our one, big goal is to make it to the state championship, but we have our little, tiny goals along the way that we have to meet in order to make it there,” Norcross said. “So we kind of go game by game instead.”

The first game is against Oxford Hills. Latuscha said that’s all the team can worry about right now. Then they can move on from there. Maybe eventually a championship game can be next on the list.

“It’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of hard practices every day,” Latuscha said. “We’ll have to focus on the little things, because little things are big things.”

There’s still a big picture that the team has in mind. Beaudet said the seniors knowing its their last season together gives them an extra hunger to achieve that biggest of goals. They’ll try to instill that hunger to the underclassmen.

“They talk about ‘You may never get to play this game. We may never get this far, so give everything you have, give us your best chance and best opportunity, best thing you have right now,'” Latuscha said. “‘You can’t think about maybe next year. It’s got to be this year, and you got to continue to work as hard as you can to get to the next level.'”

“I think that we just need to keep pushing each other and holding everyone accountable,” Norcross said. “So if one day a girl’s slacking off, maybe you just got to remind her about our goal and how we all got to work hard together in order to make it back there.”

“Everyone just has to want it, and we all just have to want it the same day,” Berube added. “And if we all work together I think it could happen.”

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