Michelle Martin-Moore knew her Massabesic High field hockey team had a chance to be competitive, but a lot would depend on who she found to play center midfield — perhaps the sport’s most important position.

Center midfield sets the tone for just about everything, directing the offense and defense. For the last two seasons, Karissa McCoy played there, but she graduated last spring.

After trying several players early in the season, Martin-Moore settled on senior Taylor Bergeron — with great results. “She’s really grown into that position,” said Martin-Moore. “She commands that position.”

Martin-Moore loves Bergeron’s competitiveness and work ethic, using a phrase more often used in football.

“Taylor’s a real physical presence out there,” said Martin-Moore. “She went to Parisi (Speed School, a performance center in Saco) over the summer and got into incredible shape. She doesn’t tire easily and her physical strength allows her to command a presence.”

And the Mustangs are benefitting. They are 10-1 and in third place in the Western Class A Heal point standings. They scored a huge 1-0 victory over rival Sanford last week.

“That was a good milestone for us,” said Martin-Moore. Sanford, ranked fourth, is always among the best teams in the class. And Martin-Moore was the school’s freshman coach for many years.

“When I coach against (Diana Walker) it’s cool,” said Martin-Moore. “You always want to beat your mentor.”

The future looks bright for the Mustangs. At one point against Sanford, all three forwards — Logan Provencher, Alex Staples and Jackie Guillemette — were sophomores. Normally Provencher plays the midfield with Bergeron and Sam Emmons. “They really control the middle of the field but I wanted more speed up front,” said Martin-Moore.

With the playoffs approaching, Martin-Moore is starting to expect more from her players.

“We really want to make sure we’re playing a solid 60 minutes. We haven’t been doing that consistently,” she said.

GORHAM HIGH is competing for one of the last playoff berths in Western Class A. And Coach Becky Manson-Rioux is also looking for consistency.

“We’re half-on, half-off,” she said. “It might be that we’re on for a half, or sometimes we’re on for only half a half. We need to become more consistent.”

Entering the week, the Rams were in the 11th, and final, playoff position.

OLD ORCHARD Beach is vying for the final playoff spot in Western Class C. The Seagulls entered the week in ninth place, trailing No. 8 St. Dominic by percentage points in the Heal point standings.

The Seagulls played top-ranked North Yarmouth Academy twice in three days last week, losing 7-1 on Thursday and 3-2 on Saturday.

After the second game, Old Orchard Coach Carolyn Mehlman said in an email, “I think we finally played up to our potential today.”

The Seagulls made some lineup changes, moving players to different positions, and came away with a much better effort, limiting the chances of high-scoring NYA. Old Orchard goalie Colleen Dyer had 30 saves in the 7-1 loss, but had to make only nine in the 3-2 loss.

“Honestly, I don’t think I have ever felt this good about a loss,” said Mehlman.

The Seagulls have three games remaining, at Gray-New Gloucester on Wednesday, home to Freeport on Friday and home to Traip Academy on Oct. 11.

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

Twitter: MikeLowePPH