ISLESBORO — By and large, the Class D South boys soccer final standings had many of the usual suspects near the top of the region.  

Richmond came in second. A large school by Class D standards that made the state final in 2017. North Yarmouth Academy qualified for the state final in 2018 and 2019, as the Panthers claimed the state crown in 2018. NYA finished third this season.  

But one Midcoast school — small in size but large in pitch talent — looks down on them all from the top of the standings as the postseason kicks off.

Islesboro Central School nabbed the top seed in the 14-team region with a record of eight wins against one loss to Richmond late in the season. 

The team is comprised of 27 players, including 10 “magnet” students that commute by ferry from the mainland towns of Union, Lincolnville, Northport, Montville and Belfast. 

Islesboro is a kindergarten through 12th-grade school that has 86 students, 21 of whom are “magnet” students. 

Through grades 8-12 — from which students can play varsity sports at ICS — there are 42 students, including 17 magnets.  

Thus, a larger percentage of students through grades 8-12 (64 percent) play on the team than do not.  

“We have players that can go on to play in college,” said Islesboro coach Rob McHugh. “We have players who started playing a couple of years ago, and everything in between.” 

McHugh has coached high school soccer for 17 years, including the past seven at ICS, where he also is the school’s social studies teacher. “I knew we were going to be stronger than in years past, but our performance has exceeded my expectations,” he said of this year’s team.

Of the team’s 27 players, 14 are in grades 8-10, while six players play club soccer for various organizations such as Dutch Soccer Academy — which operates out of The PITCH in Warren — and Seacoast United Maine out of Topsham.  

The team also has six female players, who include one starter, outside back Reagan Field. She is recovering from an injury but is expected to return for the postseason. Senior Sam Jagger also has been sidelined with an ankle injury several weeks.  

Islesboro is not the only coed team in Class D, with others including Chop Point of Woolwich and Temple Academy of Waterville. 

McHugh said, “This year we have a solid starting group and varying depth from the bench. Some are capable of starting and playing 80 minutes [and] some are brand new to the sport.” 

Eighth-grader Harper Conover and Matt Britton are the team’s strikers. Conover has ball skills and vision on the field that offset his size, while Britton creates valuable scoring chances with speed and determination.  

The team’s backs are upperclassmen, led by brothers Lake and Jett Lindelof. While they are perhaps better known statewide for their talent in Alpine ski racing, the senior and junior are the backbone of the defense.  

Freshman goalie Robert Conover “is the best trained and most talented keeper I have seen in a very long time,” said McHugh. Conover has given up only two goals this season, a penalty kick against Vinalhaven and “two solid goals from Richmond,” annually one of Class D’s top teams.  

However, the team’s two center midfielders — junior Toby Conover and senior Charles Jagger — are perhaps the most integral pieces of the puzzle. Toby Conover’s “ability to win balls and distribute make him a real threat,” while Jagger’s “ability to advance the ball forward have created a number of opportunities throughout the season,” the coach said.

McHugh said the team runs like a finely-oiled machine and “it hasn’t been a challenge to have the team gel.” 

“Even though there are many new to the sport and/or haven’t played together, because this is a tight-knit community and all the athletes know each other very well, making the team come together quickly and easily,” he said. 

“One of the great things about Islesboro Central School soccer is that our athletes have a unique combination of a cooperative and competitive spirit. We are very cooperative and supportive of one another and all our differences in skill and talent, yet fiercely competitive with our opponents.” 

As far as any extra attention the team has received, McHugh said “whatever notoriety we’ve earned, players have had mixed responses.” 

“Some recoil and frankly others get intimidated during certain games,” he said. “And others have truly risen to the occasion, like brothers Robert and Toby Conover during our 2-0 loss to Richmond. The game against Richmond, though a loss, will prove to be to our benefit in the postseason. All of us now know that we can’t walk on water.” 

McHugh said, “My hope for the postseason is for our team to play well, stay healthy, send the message that even little island schools can compete. 

“And, of course, win.” 

Islesboro will host its first regional playoff game against No. 9 Chop Point of Woolwich on Thursday, Oct. 28 at noon at Point Lookout in Northport.