Taylor Simpson had already established herself as a scoring threat for York High’s field hockey team with 11 goals as a junior.
This year she added more. More goals, more assists, and more dominance in all facets of the game.
Coach Barb Marois said most people notice Simpson’s goal-scoring. It’s hard not to. She banged home a school-record 38 goals this season, rifling shots off her forehand and with a wicked reverse-stick shot she has become known for taking.
“She really added some things to her game and everything just took one giant step forward for her in terms of stick skills, her shooting, her passing, her ability to get into open space, her movement off the ball. Really everything,” Marois said.
Because of the overall improvement to go with her 38 goals, 10 assists and senior leadership that led York to a 17-1 record and the Class B championship game, Simpson was selected as the field hockey player of the year.
Simpson and fellow All-Staters Allison Lancaster of Skowhegan and Madison Cummings of Belfast are the three finalists for Miss Maine Field Hockey, which will be announced Dec. 8.
Not bad for a middle-school soccer player who didn’t pick up a field hockey stick until she was in the eighth grade.
“Making varsity sophomore year, I never thought I would be where I am today,” Simpson said. “It just kind of shows you can never give up on your dreams.”
York rolled through the West with a 17-0 record and 15 shutouts. In the Western Class B final, Simpson had her sixth game with three or more goals as the Wildcats buried Spruce Mountain, 6-0.
The run ended with a 1-0 loss to unbeaten Nokomis in the Class B state final. Simpson was held scoreless for just the second time all year, and York dropped to 1-7 in state championship games over the last 10 seasons.
“After the state game I was devastated, and then I thought back on the season and how we had our shutout record. I was mad we lost the state game, but at least we lost to a team that had just as good a record. They worked so hard to get there as well,” Simpson said.
Simpson said her personal success is tied to her teammates and coaches. She’s quick to point out the positive impact of Lily Posternak, a freshman midfielder and All-Telegram pick.
“That was a huge help to our team, someone who could connect with me,” Simpson said. “I want to say half of my goals were off her assists. She’s very good.”
Her primary coaches have been Marois and Marisa Didio, the New England Hockeymates director. Both were members of the 1988 and 1996 U.S. Olympic teams, Marois as a player and Didio as an assistant coach.
Didio was also a head college coach at Tufts, the University of New Hampshire, Yale and Northwestern before starting Hockeymates, based out of Durham, N.H.
“Without Coach Marois or my club coach, I don’t think I’d be where I am today,” Simpson said.
“I never thought I would be playing for two Olympians.”
After a second season of indoor track – “to stay in shape,” she said – and a fourth year of varsity lacrosse at York, Simpson will take her field hockey stick and head to Merrimack College as a scholarship athlete.
Merrimack reached the NCAA Division II Final Four this season.
“Obviously it was going to come down to whichever school I was most comfortable with, but I wanted it to be a high-ranking program,” Simpson said.
Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at: