Sep. 27—There were a lot of zeroes on scoreboards at the end of games for the Oxford Hills field hockey team through the first half of the season, but that was a good thing for the Vikings.
Oxford Hills got off to a 6-1 start, with all six wins by way of shutouts. The lone loss, coincidentally, was a shutout loss to Mt. Blue in the third game of the season.
Longtime Vikings coach Cindy Goddard said she wasn't too surprised with the team's hot start because the players — many of whom play the sport year-round — worked hard in the offseason to be ready for this year's campaign.
Oh, and the Vikings have a very good goalie — in Goddard's words — in sophomore Gabby Wright.
"Gabby Wright is definitely the key," Goddard said. "She tells the kids what to do, she's the vocal person, the commander. Which is nice to have someone in that back spot that sees everything and she knows what she's talking about."
A good goalie always helps a team to success, especially with so many shutouts, but Goddard said the defensive line — which includes center back Molly Corbett and left back Carlee-Mae Cash — has played well and the team had good depth during the hot start.
That depth has gone away with some injuries, notably junior Allison Slicer.
"We hopefully will get her back, but not having her has been a little bit difficult," Goddard said. "That's going to be tough playing (opposing teams) that second time around without her."
Since that hot start, the team has lost its last two games — 1-0 to Brunswick, which Goddard called "a bit of a Debbie Downer" after the Vikings had beaten the Dragons the game before, and 3-0 to Skowhegan.
Oxford Hills has five games left, including rematches with Edward Little, Lewiston and Mt. Ararat teams it already beat, as well as a chance to get redemption against Mt. Blue. Goddard said the team is still looking to reach its goal of earning a top-four spot in Class A North. The Vikings were still in second place entering play Monday.
That's how St. Dom's coach Abigail Bowie said her team's season is going, with a 6-0 record and the No. 2 spot in the Class C South Heal points standings entering Monday. Bowie said the team is definitely exceeding her expectations so far.
"We are coming out strong and maintaining our level of St. Dom's field hockey throughout the whole time of play," Bowie said. "Keeping things simple and executing the small game, such as passing, shooting, dodging, etc. has been a goal of mine for the team. I think they are executing so well."
Bowie highlighted the play of her two senior captains — defender Bryana Archer and forward Julianne Cook. She praised their communication skills as a big part of the team's success.
Bowie also called freshman Emily Andrews an excellent addition to the team. Andrews played in the St. Dom's middle school program and has gotten on the scoreboard at the beginning of her high school career. Bowie said she expects great things from Andrews in the future as well.
In Class C North, Mountain Valley was a pleasantly surprising 5-1-1 entering Monday, according to head coach Melissa Forbes, considering that half her team is underclassmen.
"We are playing as a team and understanding that everyone has to pull their own weight out on the field if we want to be successful."
Forbes said the four senior captains are stepping on the field and as leaders. The quartet is made up of Taylor Duguay, Autumn Freeman, Lauren Pepin and Alana Young.
Leavitt field hockey got thrown into the fire in its first two games, playing B North contender Cony and A North competitor Lewiston. The Hornets came out of that start with a one-goal win and a double-overtime loss.
Since then, Leavitt has won four straight games to sit at 5-1 and in third place in Class B South.
"We have dealt with a few injuries and illnesses, like every team, I would imagine, and other players have stepped in and performed well," Leavitt coach Wanda Ward-MacLean said. "We have had to use some younger players with no varsity experience and overall they have met our expectations. Recently we have been hit by a COVID exposure and lost 10 players in the program over both varsity and JV to quarantine. Hopefully by October 2 we will be back at full strength."
The strength of the Hornets' play has come, in part, from their five senior captains, who Ward-MacLean said are some of the better players in the area and KVAC B, if not the whole state. They are midfielders Eve Martineau and Keriah Marston, backs Megan Nason and Daisy Twitchell and goalie Paige DeMascio.
The Hornets, who have conceded just two goals this season, still have eight games left to play in the next three weeks, and Ward-MacLean noted how busy her team will be for the rest of the regular season.
The Edward Little and Lewiston played their traditional early-season matchup — the first of two games between the rivals — on Friday, Sept. 17. It was a late start for the clash, with an 8 p.m. starting time under the lights at Lewiston's Don Roux Field.
Lewiston coach Jenessa Talarico said the game "drew a large crowd of students that came and cheered on both teams. I believe having the support of the student body helped the girls play with an extra spark."
The Blue Devils won the game 3-0, despite the Red Eddies' best efforts.
"The athletes gave it their all in the Lewiston game and were disappointed in the end result," EL coach Kim Joler said.
There was no time to dwell on the matchup for either team, which both had to go on the road the next morning to play games.
Compounding on the quick turnaround was that both games — Edward Little at Bangor and Lewiston at Messalonskee went to overtime.
"It was difficult to rally and have a positive view the next morning," said Joler, whose team lost 4-3 in what has become a season of close defeats for the winless (entering Monday) Red Eddies.
"If you were there for the games you'd see athletes working their tail off," Joler said. "You'd see that Edward Little is competitive and will fight right down to the last second. They have been making some great passes and saves. It has just not been enough."
The Blue Devils, in their second game of the back-to-back, were able to rally to beat Messalonskee for their most recent win during a 4-3-1 start.
"During halftime against Messalonskee the score was 0-0 and our halftime talk was focused on playing with energy and digging deep," Talarico said. "I told them they needed to find the spark they played with the night before against EL. I told them we had to find a way to play with the same intensity we had against EL even if there was zero fans in the audience."
Lewiston fell behind in the second half and Talarico said she was worried her team would fold due to being tired while facing a good team, but the Blue Devils tied it up in regulation and won in overtime.
It was just another example to Talarico of the fitness level her team has showed her since they showed up to the first day of preseason.
"I believe last weekend was a testament to how hard these girls worked in the offseason," Talarico said. said. "It makes such a difference when you can start the preseason working on stick skills rather than having to spend the majority of this time conditioning."