Coaches, fans and opposing players should be forewarned: Keep an eye on the freshmen in Tuesday night’s Western Class A and B regional field hockey finals.
Young players have filled pivotal roles for both Class A squads, No. 1 Scarborough (15-0-1) and No. 2 Massabesic (14-2), who will play the third of three games at Thornton Academy, scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.
But no freshman has been more influential to her team’s success than Lily Posternak, the starting center midfielder for York High, the unbeaten No. 1 seed in Class B.
Posternak’s playmaking skills and her scoring touch (11 goals) helped the Wildcats nearly triple their goal production this season compared to last year’s team that lost in the Western final.
“She’s certainly raised the level of play as a team. Lily has a great level of individual skills but she’s looking for players to pass to and those kids are starting to know that she’s looking and those things are clicking,” York Coach Barb Marois said.
York (16-0) survived in penalty corners against No. 4 Leavitt in Saturday’s semifinal when senior scoring star Taylor Simpson knocked in a rebound of Posternak’s shot.
In a quarterfinal win against Freeport, Posternak scored 38 seconds into the game with a strong individual move and shot.
York (16-0) will face No. 2 Spruce Mountain (15-0-1) at 5:30 p.m.
The Class C regional final starts the triple-header at 3:30 and also pits the two top-ranked teams in No. 1 Lisbon (13-2-1) against No. 2 North Yarmouth Academy (13-2-1).
Posternak came to the York varsity with significant previous experience.
The younger sister of former Wildcats scoring star Carie Posternak, Lily has extensive club experience and this past summer participated in USFHA Junior Olympic play.
“She’s a solid defender, too,” Marois said. “It’s not the type of thing where she’s only concerned about her offensive game.”
Massabesic is a senior-driven squad but the insertion of freshman Emma Desrochers into the starting lineup at forward has provided a boost. Desrochers added a scoring complement to senior Jackie Guillemette, who is usually closely marked. In Saturday’s 2-0 semifinal win against Falmouth, it was Desrochers who got the Mustangs going in the first half with her ninth goal of the season.
“It’s pretty amazing when you have a player who can make that leap. Going from eighth grade to high school varsity field hockey is quite a change,” Massabesic Coach Michele Martin-Moore said.
“It’s definitely a bonus because you don’t expect it and the other thing is (Desrochers) is an X factor. She’s someone people don’t know a lot about.”
Desrochers was still seeing limited time when Scarborough beat Massabesic 5-1 early in the season. The Mustangs were also hampered by injuries in that game.
Even perennial power Scarborough has gone to its youth this year, partly out of necessity. Coach Kerry Mariello has only five seniors on her roster, three who are starters.
So throughout the season there were many new faces in lineup and playing rotation. But before the start of the postseason she elevated twins Ashley and Kristen Levesque (who scored in the win against Massabesic) into the starting lineup. Also, Tori Timm and Lily Nygren came off the bench in the Red Storm’s 1-0 semifinal win against Marshwood.
“I just felt like I needed to go with the athleticism,” Mariello said.
Marshwood freshmen starters Hannah Costin and Elaine Bachelder scored in earlier postseason games and were among the better Hawks on the field Saturday.
Scarborough senior Rachael Wallace isn’t surprised players like the Levesques can make immediate impacts.
“You can definitely see all the (youth) programs around Maine stepping up and you can see it as the freshmen come in for sure,” Wallace said.
The Class C game is the one unlikely to be impacted by freshmen.
Lisbon has 11 seniors, five of whom start. NYA has six seniors intent on retaining the title. Both teams possess good team speed and are strong up the middle and have a vivid memory of Lisbon stunning the favored Panthers in last year’s regional final.
“Last year was a case of ‘Who’s Lisbon?’ and this year teams know who we are,” Lisbon Coach Julie Wescott said. “They’re a turf team so they’re one up on us on that count but we’re fast, too, so that will kind of even each other out.”
Lisbon has five scorers with at least five goals and does have a deeper bench. The offense is paced by senior Hanna Jordan and junior Arianna Kahler, with Bailey Cutler the key in the midfield.
“When we came into it last year as the defending state champions we had everything to lose,” NYA Coach Tracy Quimby said. “This year we only have something to gain. They have something to lose.”
NYA’s offense goes through senior Olivia Madore and sophomore Juju Tardiff. Elizabeth Coughlin, a junior, is considered one of the state’s top goalies.
THE EAST regional final at Hampden Academy is another trio of top-ranked matchups. At 3:30, the Eastern C final pits No. 1 Foxcroft Academy (15-0-1) vs. No. 2 Winslow (5-1), followed by Class A No. 1 Skowhegan (16-0) vs. No. 2 Messalonskee (14-2) at 5:30; and Class B No. 1 Nokomis (16-0) vs. No. 2 Old Town (14-1-1) at 7:30.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: