SCARBOROUGH — Kristen Felt looked around at all the hopefuls for Scarborough High’s field hockey team. No Brittany Ross. No Heather Carrier. No Jackie Morin. No Ellie Morin. No anyone.

The team that won the Class A state championship last year was gone.

“It’s a little odd,” said Felt, a senior who has accepted a scholarship to play at Bucknell. “There were like 40 of us. And I was wondering, ‘Where did they all go?’ “

Most went off to college. But Scarborough is not alone. Nearly every team in the SMAA graduated a big chunk of its roster from last year.

“The strength of the SMAA left,” said Westbrook Coach Beth Murphy. “There are a couple of (experienced) kids still out there, but it’s going to be a different league.”

“It’s going to be a young league,” said Diana Walker, the long-time coach at Sanford who graduated seven starters. “Graduation devastated a lot of teams. My JVs did well last year, so I’m hoping that it’s like my JVs against their JVs (again) and we’ll do well.”

Many teams have marquee players – Scarborough has the Felt sisters, Kristen and Stephanie; Cheverus has big-time scorers in Emily Sawchuck and Sarah LaQuerre; Bonny Eagle has Peyton Dostie; Gorham has Alyssa Clark and Chelsea Black – but they’re surrounded with younger, less experienced players.

“We’re asking a lot from the younger girls on the JVs to step up,” said Cheverus Coach Amy McMullin. “But the kids want it. And that’s a step in the right direction. We may not have the record we had last year (14-2), but we’ll be competitive.

“I’m excited to see what the league will look like.”

South Portland and Portland, which for years have looked in from the outside, now have a chance at getting into the playoffs. The Bulldogs lost only six players from a team that went 1-13, with eight one-goal losses.

“We’re going to go in and aim for the playoffs,” said Portland Coach Beth Arsenault. “We’ll see what happens from there.”

Marcia Wood, a former Scarborough assistant, took the head job at Deering. “They lost a lot from last year, so it’s a perfect time for me to come in with a fresh team,” said Wood.

Massabesic’s Michelle Martin said her team is extremely young – and she likes that.

“I think it’s re-energized my coaching,” she said. “They’re so youthful and they want to learn. I’m going to have four or five freshmen on the varsity roster and they’re exciting to work with.

“They may not do it exactly as I say, but they’re trying to do it exactly as I say. They’ll be fun to watch in terms of how much they grow.”

Scarborough Coach Kerry Mariello said the SMAA could be decided by exactly how much those young players grow.

“It’s all about who can learn the quickest and in the shortest amount of time,” she said.

Mariello also lost her two assistant coaches, so she’s starting from scratch there as well.

“We’re still fiddling around with things,” she said. “But we’ve got some quality freshmen and sophomores and it’s a matter of them getting playing time and picking it up as fast as they can.”

The Red Storm players are confident they’ll pull it together quickly.

“It’s definitely different,” said Kelsey Howard, a returning varsity player. “None of us have really played together. So trying to meld the new team together is hard, especially for the young kids who don’t know what it means to be on the varsity.”

The Red Storm haven’t changed their standards.

“We’re definitely going to go out and work our hardest to show other people that just because we lost a lot of seniors doesn’t mean that we don’t have the ability to win again,” said Howard.

They’ll just look different doing it.

“It’s going to have to be a strong team effort,” said Mariello. “Obviously, we’re going to rely on the Felt sisters, they will be the glue. But it’s got to be more of a team effort.”

Ah yes, the Felt sisters. They give the Red Storm an edge. They play year round, attend national camps and have attracted the interest of Division I schools.

Kristen Felt, a senior, said this will be a year of patience.

“Last year we knew where people were going to be,” she said. “This year, we have to introduce the (younger) players to our level of play. They’re not on junior varsity anymore.”

Stephanie Felt, a sophomore, said people shouldn’t dismiss the Red Storm.

“We know what we have to do to win,” she said. “People got a taste of it last year and that makes us hungrier to win.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]