A few minutes after his last game of the season, Morgan Thibodeau was still trying to catch his breath.

More specifically, it was quite a few minutes, and the stretch of time time since the final whistle included celebrating with teammates, watching as George Stevens Academy was awarded the state runner-up plaque, and then accepting the state championship trophy before bringing it over to the Mt. Abram fans and taking one more team photo together.

Even after all that, Thibodeau, Mt. Abram’s senior midfielder and one of its captains, was searching for a little extra air as he spoke about the Roadrunners’ 1-0 victory in the Class C state championship game. It was a reflection of how hard he worked to help Mt. Abram achieve that victory.

Morgan Thibodeau of Mt. Abram focuses on the ball during the Class C state championship game against George Stevens Academy on Nov. 11 at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Over a week later, Thibodeau had a chance to write down his thoughts on his senior season — one that featured 30 goals, 13 assists and zero losses — and although he was being singled out as the Sun Journal’s 2023 All-Region Boys Soccer Player of the Year, he repeatedly brought up the team.

“I can’t really say that I set specific goals for myself because all I care about is the team’s success,” Thibodeau said in an email to the Sun Journal. “Team goals that were set for the season included things like hosting playoff games, coming first or second in the MVC, getting clean sheets, and ultimately having the opportunity to play in the state game, which we felt as a group was very possible before the season had even started.

“My main goal as a captain and senior on this team was to do something that had never been done before: put this amazing high school on the map finally and forever, and lastly, something to give this community to be proud of and remember, and that’s exactly what transpired.”


Thibodeau was surrounded by many standout players. The Roadrunners featured four first-team All-Mountain Valley Conference selections, while four more were named to the All-MVC second team and two received honorable mention. Each had a hand in Mt. Abram going 18-0 in regular and postseason play, plus a win in the Mountain Valley Conference championship game that doesn’t count toward Maine Principals’ Association records.

However, it was Thibodeau who was named the MVC Player of the Year and selected for the Maine Soccer Coaches Association all-state team. And, it was Thibodeau who scored the lone goal in the state championship game with a curling, on-target corner kick that deflected in off a George Stevens player.

Mt. Abram coach Darren Allen said that Thibodeau stands out for more than his individual achievements.

“Morgan is a tremendous leader. However, he also is an unselfish player and he listened to his teammates during a match and post-match,” Allen said.

That communication was a big part of Thibodeau’s leadership as a captain, according to Allen, who noted that he challenged Thibodeau and the other captains during the summer “to do what no other Mt. Abram team had done before: To play for a state championship.”

That message from Allen, a history teacher at Mt. Abram, appeared to resonate with Thibodeau.


Mt. Abram’s Morgan Thibodeau controls the ball during a September game against Lisbon in Lisbon. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

“I would always tell these guys before a game in the huddle to, ‘Play for the badge, the community and for each other.’ And that’s exactly what they did, and I couldn’t be more proud of this group of guys,” Thibodeau said. “I really just don’t have the words to describe what this team and group means to me.”

Soccer, itself, means a lot to Thibodeau. When asked what he did over the offseason to improve from his junior year, he pointed out that he technically doesn’t have an offseason, “as I play club soccer in the winter and spring at Seacoast United. I would have training two times a week and games on the weekends, so I am always improving little by little every day.”

He was also in the weight room three to four times a week, working on improving his physical strength and gaining muscle mass.

Thibodeau knew he was going to be a marked man by opposing defenses, and Allen made sure to reiterate that to his standout midfielder.

The coach used an early-season game against Lisbon, in which Thibodeau assisted on one goal and scored another on a penalty kick, as an example of Thibodeau embracing and adapting to the increased attention by opponents.

“Morgan had a player glued to him everywhere. His attitude was, ‘One of the other midfielders are going to be more open because of it,’ and he did not care if he scored, just that the team won,” Allen recalled. “He dealt with this all season and even in the state championship.”


Sure, there were multiple games where Thibodeau recorded hat tricks, but there were many others that putting only one shot in the net was an accomplishment because of how close defenders were marking him.

“I mean, I was man-marked in a lot of the games throughout the season. I don’t think there was one specific game that I can recall,” Thibodeau said. “It’s something that I had to overcome and adapt to the entire season, but I was able to do so successfully. I would find myself at times throughout a game having to go out wide, which is something I am not used to, as I play center attacking midfield all the time, so I would go out wide to create more space for not only myself but as well as my teammates in the middle.”

The state championship game against George Stevens Academy showed both Thibodeau’s abilities and the attention he attracted. He was on the receiving end of back-to-back passes from teammate Andrew Rother that set up shots by Thibodeau — the first went over the crossbar off a volley and the second was snuffed out by George Stevens’ goalie. But Thibodeau had made his presence known in those opening moments, and the Eagles defense sought to keep someone on his hip the rest of the game.

George Stevens was trying desperately to take possession of the ball in the second half, but Thibodeau at times made that seem impossible, drawing multiple hard fouls that led to yellow cards for Eagles players as they tried to dislodge the ball from his control.

Still, nearly two weeks after the state final, Thibodeau tipped his metaphorical cap to George Stevens.

“They put up a great fight and played us really hard, especially defensively,” he said.

Thibodeau understandably was exhausted after that game, but it was all worth it for him.

“It is really nice to be getting all of this recognition. I have dedicated my life to soccer, as it is at the heart of everything for me,” said Thibodeau, who plans on playing soccer at Springfield College. “Getting this much recognition for my individual accomplishments is definitely very nice, but I have always said that personal accolades come second. So I couldn’t be more happy with how much the team is getting recognized for what we have accomplished and the historical season that we had.

“I can say that as a senior, there is no better way to have gone out than winning a golden ball with the group of guys that I will always have a special place in my heart for. People would always say, ‘MTA, who is that? ‘Where are they from?’ All I’ve ever wanted to do for this school, community and students was to put MTA rightfully on the map, and I can proudly say that we did just that.”

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