The Proctor soccer teams can’t escape the shadow of that impressive history. The boys have won 19 state crowns, tying them with CVU for most in the state. The girls have won eight state titles but, most impressively, they have made it all the way to the last nine state championship games.
Some of the town’s denizens look at winning state soccer titles as a birthright.
Mike Corey recalls playing for the Phantoms in the late 1960s when he encountered an adult in front of Paul’s Supermarket after a loss in soccer. The man lit into him and scolded him and his teammates for not hustling and not not representing the town well.
Corey never forget that admonishment. When he went on to coach soccer at Vergennes and Mount Abraham, he relayed that anecdote to his players along with the message to play for themselves and have fun and not to be burdened by the town’s expectations.
That is easier said than done, especially for this year’s edition of Phantoms girls soccer as it attempts to defend the state title.
The Phantoms lost only two seniors from that championship team so they are well fortified for a run at a 10th consecutive title game.
Many soccer coaches believe in building from the back forward and if that’s the approach, co-coaches Scott French and Chris Hughes are in great shape with Rachel Stuhlmueller in the goal.
Stuhlmueller is a four-year starter in the net. She is athletic, has good hands and is fearless.
The other seniors are Hope Kelley, Catherine Cameron, Torey George, Lucy Tate, Maeve Sheehe, Katelyn Storey, Sydney Wood and Janaya Richardson.
Most of the seniors are on the defensive side of the field but Storey, Wood and Richardson will supply punch up front.
Much of that punch will be provided by junior Maggie McKearin. She had some gaudy statistics in 2019 with 27 goals and 19 assists.
Laci French is back at full strength following an injury and her presence will make the Phantoms solid in the middle of the field.
“She has been looking great as our center midfielder,” Hughes said.
Other juniors are Jasmyn and Dez Traverse and Katelynn Regula.
Jenna Davine is a sophomore. Her consistency in delivering corner kicks is a main weapon.
Other sophomores are Hailey Sloan and Valerie Johnson.
There are five freshmen who have caught the eye of Hughes and French: Isabel Greb, Brookelyn Kimball, Grace King, Shelby Moody and backup keeper Cadence Goodwin.
McKearin is certain to draw plenty of attention from the defense but Hughes believes there are others capable of scoring to take the pressure off her. Players like Storey, Wood and Richardson can put the ball in the net and French and the Traverse sisters are strong ball strikers who can threaten goalkeepers from the perimeter.
“We have been very pleased. They are well above where we thought they would be now,” Hughes said. “We have seen a lot of good things from everybody.”
Sharon Academy visits Taranovich Field on Sept. 22 for the opener.
The Proctor boys team also has robust numbers for a Division IV program with 19 players out for the squad.
The Phantoms are led by seniors Conner McKearin, Brennon Crossmon, Cam Richardson and Jed Nop.
They will launch the season on Sept. 24 by hosting Mount St. Joseph.