SACO - By all measures, the 2017 edition of the Thornton Academy Boys Soccer team has had a successful year. Last June 12 senior boys graduated and left the program with some pretty large shoes to fill. On Saturday, October 21, the boys from TA did just that as they took to the pitch at Hill Stadium and won their first-round playoff game, 1-0, defeating the Marshwood Hawks, improving their overall record to 9-5-1.
Senior Zackary Thyng gets ready to enter the playoff game for the Thornton Academy boys soccer team.
- photo by David Arenstam
"I couldn't be happier for them. They played well until the final whistle," said Andrew Carlson, the head coach for the team.
The Thornton team was the number eight seed in their conference and as a result, played the number nine seed, Marshwood. For most of the game, the teams played evenly and the contest was scoreless, but with nearly 10 minutes left to play, senior forward Brogan Searle-Belanger managed to put one in the back of the net. Thornton had the lead but now the team had to do everything in their power to keep the players from Marshwood at bay.
When the final whistle blew and the players celebrated near midfield, Carlson turned to his longtime assistant coach, Peter Benham, and the two coaches shared a knowing smile. The team had done it and now they were headed to South Portland to play the number one seed in their division.
Brogan Searle-Belanger and his teammates celebrate the winning goal during the team's playoff victory at Hill Stadium. - photo by David Arenstam
"Our guys certainly have risen to the challenge. There are nine seniors on the team and they have developed as one unit over the course of the season," he said.
Carlson, the longtime coach of the Golden Trojans, has had a successful year of his own. Carlson's soccer team won a game on September 21 against Masabesic, 7-0, and with that win, Carlson, the head coach for the boys tennis and boys soccer team, became one of the few coaches in the school's history to win 100 games while coaching two different sports.
"I have been fortunate in both sports," Carlson said. "Over the years, players have carried on the tradition of not only being good players but good people."
Carlson hopes the team plays well during the next contest but after coaching for 18 seasons, he understands that coaching in high school is often about more than just wins or losses.
"It's not about career victories. It's about life lessons and helping the athletes develop into better young adults, helping them realize they represent themselves, their families and the institution."
Andy Carlson, the head coach of the boys team, speaks with Frantisek Vondrak, a junior forward, before he enters the game against Marshwood. - photo by David Arenstam