A couple weeks ago, Lori Smith wasn’t sure what direction her Thornton Academy field hockey team was going to take. The Trojans had lost two of their previous three games – to playoff contenders Kennebunk and Massabesic – and were wobbling around the ninth and final playoff position in Western Class A.

Thornton Academy has responded with four consecutive wins, including victories over fifth-ranked South Portland and third-ranked Westbrook that were worth a lot of Heal points. Heading into today’s season finale against second-ranked Cheverus, the Trojans (9-3-1) are ranked fourth, and a victory over the Stags could secure home-field advantage in the quarterfinals.

Asked the difference in her team the last four games, Smith said, “They knew it was coming down to the wire. Plus, with both South Portland and Westbrook, they were excited to be playing teams they knew could give them a challenge.”

The Trojans beat South Portland 4-2, with Katrina Thibodeau getting three goals and an assist, then edged rival Biddeford 2-0 before downing Westbrook 1-0 on Saturday. Morgan Ouellette-Foss got the only goal as Thornton withstood 28 Westbrook penalty corners.

“We definitely got our defensive work in that game,” said Smith. “We play a cover defense and when you do that, you get a lot of third-party calls against you. We just stepped up and played really hard defensively.”

Smith credited senior backs Ashley Gaudette and Jasmine Roy and junior midfielder Nicole Moore for the defensive stand. And, she said, having junior midfielder Mary Brown back and healthy is pivotal. The flyer on Thornton’s defensive corners (meaning she rushes the player receiving the ball), Brown missed the losses against Kennebunk and Massabesic. “She can really make a difference,” said Smith.

Smith is also pleased with the unselfishness of her offensive players. The Trojans had only two shots against Westbrook but scored on their second penalty corner. Thibodeau, who leads Thornton with nine goals and eight assists, got the ball, then passed to an open Alicia Dutremble. Dutremble saw Ouellette-Foss open down low and passed it to her for the shot and the score.

MARCIA WOOD had a pretty good gig at Scarborough. She was an assistant coach on last year’s undefeated Class A state champion field hockey team, and head coach of Scarborough’s undefeated Class A champion girls’ lacrosse team.

She gave up her assistant’s role in field hockey to take over as head coach at Deering. While Scarborough remains top-ranked in Western Class A, Deering is in last place at 0-12-1. But Wood is glad she made the move.

“This season and these girls have reenergized and remotivated me to see if we can do something to get this program going in the next three years,” she said.

About halfway through the season, she told her players to stop worrying about winning and focus on other things.

“We wanted to be really exhausted when we came off the field, so we knew we did whatever we could,” said Wood. “We wanted to try to score and we wanted to keep the other team within two goals.”

In the Rams’ 1-1 tie with Noble last Wednesday, Lily Hampton scored and Caley Presby made 10 saves.

When Wood met with her players for the first time, she asked how many had scored a varsity goal. No one raised a hand. But, said Wood, “They’ve all been so positive and upbeat. We could be losing 4-0 and they’re all still on the sideline, cheering and shouting.”

 

BRUNSWICK BEAT Mt. Ararat 1-0 on Saturday – the Dragons’ second shutout win over the Eagles this year – and moved into seventh in Eastern Class A, though Coach Rebecca Costa will wait until the final Heal standings come out this week to find out exactly where the Dragons will finish.

“We knew going into Saturday that it was a must-win situation,” she said. “We didn’t want to leave our fate in the hands of other teams.”

At 8-6, the Dragons improved on last year’s 5-8-1 mark. “Our numbers are still a little low, but we stayed healthy this year, and that was important,” said Costa.

Brunswick has received strong play from midfielders Kia Jensen, a senior, and Annie Kelly, a junior. Sophomore goalie Sydney Escoe has played well, and freshman Grace Rabinowitz has 12 goals.

 

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