Kassey Matoin has a tough critic standing on the Bowdoin College sideline and it’s not her coach. Tony Matoin balances a father’s pride with the unblinking eye of a former star athlete who’s been there, done that.
And it doesn’t matter that his daughter plays field hockey and his best sport was football.
“She doesn’t have the physical skills of some of her teammates who have played on a rug all their lives,” said Tony, speaking of turf fields. “She played on grass. She doesn’t have their stickwork. It’s incredible what they can do with the ball.
“Kassey outworks them. She’s the strongest on the team. The quickest, too. It does seem like she never comes off the field.”
Maybe that doggedness and competitive play comes from the family gene pool. Tony won the 1978 Fitzpatrick Award. He was Maine’s best high school football player and he never left the field, playing for Sanford High. Running back on offense, safety on defense, and punter on special teams. He had wheels for legs and a motor that never quit.
That description fits Kassey, a senior defender on a team that plays Tufts in the New England Small College Athletic Conference semifinals Saturday. She’s 5-foot-3 and a graduate of Diana Walker’s successful field hockey program at Sanford High.
Kassey was a scorer in her second collegiate season, collecting 10 goals and 2 assists in 2010 when Bowdoin won its third NCAA Division III field hockey title in four years. She scored on a penalty stroke in overtime of the final game when Bowdoin beat Messiah College, 2-1.
Coach Nicky Pearson needed to rebuild the defense the next year and turned to Kassey, who has become effective in thwarting opposing offenses.
Kassey’s collegiate career is nearing its end. Another trip to the NCAA finals is the goal. “I have been thinking of that every minute of every day it seems,” she said. “It’s really sad. I’ve played field hockey for more than half of my life and I’ve been so fortunate.”
“I remember when I put my shoulder pads on for the last time,” said her father, who played two years at the University of Massachusetts on a scholarship before injuries cut short his football career. “For Kassey, it was going from a passion to almost a job at Bowdoin. But she loves the sport.”
Tony’s voice came alive as he talked. He’s a supervisor with Central Maine Power and Wednesday was nearing the end of another 17-hour shift, restoring power in the Lebanon and Berwick areas post-Sandy.
He’s also wonders every time his cell phone rings if this is the call from his wife, Karen, with news of her father who is gravely ill.
“It’s hard,” said Kassey, who juggles thoughts of her family with classes and field hockey. “Coach tells us to take it one game at a time. I’m taking it one day at a time.”
n Tony Faulkner, the head performance and development coach for Manchester City, the 2012 English Premier League champions, will speak about performance psychology at a public seminar at 6 p.m. Friday at Kresge Hall on the Bowdoin campus . . . The women’s soccer team advanced to the NESCAC semifinals Saturday for the first time in four years. Bowdoin plays Amherst in Williamstown, Mass., at 1:30 p.m.
UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND
Paige Curran (Chelmsford, Mass.) was named the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Player of the Year and Senior Scholar Athlete of the Year in volleyball. Joining Curran on the all-CCC first team is junior Maria Kuehl (Middleton, N.H.) . . . The field hockey team placed four on the first CCC All-Conference first team: forward Casey Clark (Bethlehem, N.H.), midfielder Hannah Tavella (Putnam Valley, N.Y.), as well as defenders Laura Egounis (Boscawen, N.H.) and Emily Koehler (Pelham, N.H.). . . . The men’s ice hockey team opens its 2012-2013 season at home with a 7 p.m. Friday game against Skidmore.
A day after the opener, the Nor’easters will host Castleton State . . . Ron Ouellette was named the CCC Coach of the Year after his women’s cross country team won the conference championship.
First-year runner Michaela Moran (Atkinson, N.H.), junior Colleen Ahern (Portland, Conn.) and sophomore Annelise Donahue (South Portland) placed fourth, fifth and sixth to earn all-conference. Joining that trio on the all-conference team was sophomore Natalie Hardman (Kalona, Iowa) with her eighth-place finish. The Nor’easters return to action Saturday at the ECAC Division III championship at Mount Greylock High School in Williamstown, Mass.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MAINE
Molly Carl (York) won the Little East Conference cross country championship last weekend. She and her teammates run again Saturday at the ECAC Division III meet . . . The women’s basketball team hosts its annual Shooting Clinic from 9 a.m. through 3 p.m. Sunday at the Costello Sports Complex. It’s open to girls in grades 3-10. The fee for the clinic is $35 in advance and $45 the day of the clinic. Participants should bring a lunch.
Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: