by Ken Brown
MARSHFIELD – Meles Gouge has been a multi-sport athlete for Twinfield-Cabot the past three seasons but has few peers when he steps foot on the soccer pitch as his prolific goal scoring has made the Trojans into a perennial title contender.
Gouge came to the Marshfield community from Ethiopia when he was nine years old. He remembers developing an affinity for the game of soccer at an early age, watching the greatest footballer of all time glide across his television screen.
“My friends and I used to watch Messi play on TV in Ethiopia when I was little, and I was so impressed with how he played. I wanted to be just like him, and I have been following his career closely since then,” said Gouge.
His first three varsity seasons on the pitch as a Trojan has been closer to imitating his boyhood idol than he thinks. He led Twinfield-Cabot in scoring as a freshman and helped the program win their first match in the Division IV playoffs in 11 years. The speedy striker was even better in his sophomore campaign, burying 20 goals in the back of the net and assisting on six others, while leading Twinfield-Cabot to 11 wins and their first Final Four appearance in 21 years. He was the only tenth grader to earn First Team honors in the rugged Mountain League and recognized as one of the best players in Vermont with an All-State selection. He transitioned into more of a leadership role last fall, moving to midfield and directing a young team consisting of six freshmen starters to another 11 wins and back to the Division IV semifinals. While battling through injuries, he still led the Trojans with 20 goals and was the point man on one of the most potent offenses in the division that found the back of the net 60 times. His efforts earned him another All-State selection and First Team honors in the Mountain League. His pairing with head coach Peter Stratman has helped lead the program to 30 wins the past three seasons and Gouge credits his head coach in developing him into the player that he is today.
“Peter has dedicated himself to helping me and the team. He has helped me not get into my own head when things aren’t going our way. He puts his trust in me on the field as one of the captains, pushing me to get better every day and making me work hard to achieve greatness. He is always prepared and ready to coach me and the team every practice and every game,” said Gouge.
Stratman has turned a spiraling Trojan program into a divisional power, winning 39 matches in his four seasons at the helm. Gouge’s impact on the program as he’s developed into one of the best soccer players in the state is not lost on him.
“Meles brings so much energy to the game and the seamless transition he made into a leadership role in the midfield last season was outstanding. He’s an incredible player, who gives it his all every match and he did an amazing job holding our young team together last season,” said Stratman.
Gouge is poised for a truly special senior season on the pitch this coming fall and Twinfield-Cabot will once again be a title contender as they look to end a state championship drought that has lasted over three decades. Gouge’s reaction to those kinds of expectations is perhaps the true secret to his unbelievable success.
“The most exciting thing is that I get to play the game again with my friends. We’ve been playing soccer together since I was in the fifth grade and that’s what I look forward to the most in my final season of playing at Twinfield-Cabot,” said Gouge.
There are no off seasons for Gouge, as he plays point guard for the Trojan basketball team in the winter and shortstop for Danville’s baseball team in the spring. He was a Mountain League Honorable Mention on the hardwood as a junior and claimed Second Team honors in the Mountain League on the baseball diamond earlier this month. He batted over .400 for the Bears, with seven doubles, four triples, while stealing 17 bases. His thoughts on representing his school and serving as a role model to younger athletes makes you realize that Meles’ character might actually be his true superpower.
“The most important thing to me is to have pride in my small school, whether I’m representing Twinfield-Cabot or Danville on the court or on the field. I didn’t want to experience burnout from playing just one sport. I believe that playing multiple sports gives you the opportunity to make new friends and helps you grow as a person,” said Gouge.