It’s been a sometimes strange and wonderful field hockey regular season, with several teams making dramatic turnarounds and many proclaiming championship aspirations with their play. And no one expects the uncertainty to stop in the playoffs as the regional quarterfinals begin today.

“Things are a bit crazy here right now,” said Massabesic Coach Michelle Martin. “But that’s OK. It’s a good crazy.”

The eighth-seeded Mustangs beat Gorham 2-1 on Saturday in the state’s only preliminary round game. Their reward? A 6 p.m. Wednesday date with top-ranked Scarborough, the defending state champion.

Massabesic lost three of its last five regular-season games. “We really took a step backward,” said Martin. “So we had the girls look at what our vision was at the beginning of the season, what we really want to do, and what are the three things we can control to get there.”

Before the prelim, she had her players write down the three most important things to them, and came up with new goals: communicate, play 60 minutes of good field hockey and have fun. “Once everyone voted, it was clear what the team thinks,” said Martin. “We got focused on the things we could control, not the bounce of the ball, or how the other team played.”

Now there’s another challenge for the young Mustangs, who start three freshmen and play two others: the powerful Red Storm, led by the Felt sisters, Kristen and Stephanie. The Red Storm beat Massabesic 9-1 on Sept. 22.

“Before the playoff game, I also had the kids write down what winning that game would mean,” said Martin. “Anonymously, we read their answers. One of our girls said she wanted another shot at Scarborough.

“We know we’re not a (team that should lose 9-1); we want to show we can play better than that.”

No matter what happens, this has been a turnaround season for the Mustangs, from two wins in 2009 to nine this year.

“Some of the parents have nicknamed us, ‘The Little Team That Could,’ ” said Martin. “We’re not big, we only have 21 kids in the program. But these kids never say no.”

Scarborough Coach Kerry Mariello doesn’t have to caution her players against complacency in the playoffs.

“The girls know this is now a one-and-done season and you have to play your best,” she said. “I’m not putting any pressure on them, but we know if we play our game, the results should show in the end.”

 

YORK IS the top seed in Western Class B, but Coach Barb Marois knows the wacky season could easily continue. “It’s a whole new ballgame,” she said. “And it doesn’t matter what your number is.”

The Wildcats take on No. 8 Falmouth on Wednesday. York has eliminated Falmouth each of the last two years.

“We just need to be ready,” said Marois. “It’s the nature of the sport. Sometimes it’s difficult to score, so you don’t want to fall behind early.”

Two quarterfinals bear watching: Cape Elizabeth at Greely (the teams split, each winning by one goal) and Fryeburg at Wells (a 1-0 Wells’ regular-season win).

 

WAYNFLETE MADE the Western Class C tournament for the first time in 17 years, excluding the open tournament seasons, and has a winning record (8-5-1) for the first time in 32 years. Not bad for a team that won only three games in 2009.

“It was a matter of going out and proving that we were better than in the past,” said Coach Noelle Surette. “We’re still very young and we don’t have much experience, so it was a matter of outplaying teams. You know, we struggled early, but the more I saw the girls play the more confident I was in them. It was a matter of getting them to believe.

“There was definitely a lot of confidence building. I’m definitely proud of our accomplishments.”

Surette credits the leadership of senior forward Lindsey Sinicki and the overall play of sophomore center midfielder Joe Moore as keys to the season.

The Flyers play at North Yarmouth Academy (13-1) today in the quarterfinals. The Panthers beat the Flyers 11-0 and 5-1 in the regular season.

NYA Coach Julia Sterling returned to practice Monday after missing some time with a surgical procedure.

“I’ll just take it easy, little by little,” she said. “It’s been an interesting season. My little team is interesting gain. I’ve got a great group of girls.”

In her absence, junior varsity coach Tracy Quimby has been leading the team, along with captains Frances Leslie, Emily Harrison and Renee Lamoreau.

“It should be a fun tournament for us,” said Sterling. “I think the girls are excited.”

 

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