When you ask others about Sarah LaQuerre, it doesn’t take long to get a response.

LaQuerre led her Cheverus High field hockey team this past fall. Coach Amy Mullin said, “Sarah is key. We hate to give her the ball too much because we don’t want to be a one-man team, but she does a really great job of finding her teammates. She’s very unselfish.”

This past summer, LaQuerre worked at the Shooting Stars Program, a preschool for children with and without special needs. It can be a challenging job.

“She was a natural,” said Shooting Stars director Ruth Hughes. “She jumped right in and was great with the kids. They loved her. Very reliable. Hard worker. Very mature.”

And with the girls’ hockey season starting, Cheverus Coach J.P. Lavoie knows who to turn to.

“Sarah is a leader,” Lavoie said. “On the ice she does a great job leading the defense. Off the ice she sets the example. The other girls on the team look up to her and respect her. The same is true for her peers at school.”

Are you sensing a pattern here with Sarah LaQuerre?

She leads. She makes others around her better. And in terms of hockey, she’s one of the reasons the Stags will be a contender this season.

LaQuerre, a senior, taught herself how to skate on a small rink set up in the backyard of her family’s Old Orchard Beach home. She skated with older brother Joshua (a goalie for Cheverus, graduating in 2006).

From the backyard to travel teams, with the Biddeford and then the Casco Bay youth hockey organizations, LaQuerre’s game flourished. But then came a competitor for her affections.

Field hockey.

“I fell in love with it,” LaQuerre said. And she has excelled. In fact, she will miss the Stags’ exhibition games today because she’s playing in a national field hockey tournament this weekend in Arizona.

But then she will be back on the ice, playing defense.

“I absolutely love defense. The mind-set, positioning, and it’s more physical,” LaQuerre said. “I cannot play forward for some reason.”

But she is still offensive-minded.

“She is essential for starting the breakout,” Lavoie said. “She will carry the puck out of the zone when that is the best option, or make that first breakout pass. When she has the puck, she makes good decisions.”

Off the ice, LaQuerre has some decisions to make, including college. She would like to go to a Division III school where she can play both field hockey and ice hockey.

She plans to major in elementary education. All signs point to a successful career. What parent would not want their children around her?

Sarah LaQuerre, as they say, is a natural.

NOTES: Cheverus may be a contender, but the Stags are not alone in that department. In an informal poll of local coaches, several indicated that defending West champion York may be favored to repeat, while East runner-up Greely could become a champion this season.

The assignment for this preview was to choose the top five contenders. And we did, naming York, Greely, Falmouth, Cheverus and Scarborough. But Marie Potvin’s Biddeford program could surprise, and Courtney Rideout is looking at her best Portland High team.

Good thing Scarborough has goalie depth with All-State Devan Kane currently out with a broken wrist.

Defending champion St. Dominic appears to be rebuilding with its stellar trio from last year gone. Two graduated, and forward Marisa Zamrock transferred to Kents Hills prep school.

Regular-season games begin today. The playoffs start Feb. 8 and the state championship game is Feb. 18. 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH