Coming off an appearance in the state championship game two years prior and then a semifinal run in 2013, the Augusta Prep girls soccer team had every reason to think winning the state title was possible.
Not only did coach Tom Norton’s bunch win the program’s first state title, but the Lady Cavaliers took the GISA Class AAA championship by completing an undefeated season.
Norton’s guidance during the season made him The Augusta Chronicle’s All-Area Girls Soccer Coach of the Year.
“Right from the beginning, from the first meeting we had, we talked about goals: winning the state championship,” Norton said.
“I just felt like we had, across the board, a much more solid team. I thought, when it came right down to it, we would have a really good opportunity to win it.”
In four playoff wins, Augusta Prep outscored its opponents 18-3.
Bailee Cloutier, Charlotte Rindt, Caroline Smith and McKenna De Graff were all named All-State.
Because of their talent, most opponents stayed back and packed it in defensively against an offensively efficient and proficient team.
Norton said 10 starters all play club soccer.
A couple years ago. when Jamie Alexander was the star and player of the year, Norton estimated there were just five.
Because many players are involved with soccer year-round, Norton said his team did well under pressure – the players were used to it.
That helped the team survive a 3-2 game at Deerfield-Windsor in the semifinals and beat Stratford 2-0. Stratford had won three of the past four championships.
Norton wants the first title to encourage students to pick up soccer.
“My hope is that more younger kids at Prep see this and think, ‘I want to be a soccer player,’ ” Norton said.
“Hopefully, this success will spur additional success for other kids,” he said.
“Whether it’s the football team winning or basketball or girls soccer, hopefully younger kids see it and think, ‘I really want to get involved with that.’ ”