Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By STEVE CRAIG Staff Writer
Alyssa Curtis, center, is one of four seniors on a Marshwood team that had a breakthrough season in 2011 and expects to remain one of Class A’s top teams.
John Patriquin/Staff Photographer
"I was always on the refs, trying to get every call I could, and they would just look at me like, 'who is this woman?'" Truesdale said of the 2006 season. "It was so frustrating."
The Hawks were in the midst of a multi-season losing streak, and Truesdale was the latest in a parade of new coaches. Thirteen successful seasons as a head coach across the border at Portsmouth High, competing in New Hampshire's large-school division, meant nothing.
Truesdale was a Marshwood Hawk. The Hawks had been so bad for so long, the easiest thing to do was simply ignore them.
Fast forward to 2012, and Marshwood is the defending Western Class A champion.
The Hawks turned the program's first playoff appearance since 1994 into a surprising run, stopped only by perennial state champion Skowhegan, 6-0, in a snowy state final at Yarmouth High.
Still, they aren't viewed as the favorites in Western Class A despite returning 13 varsity players. That mantle is worn by perennial powers Scarborough and Cheverus.
In fact, most SMAA coaches asked in the preseason to name the top teams in the league mentioned four or five teams other than Marshwood. If the Hawks were noted, it was often something along the lines of "oh, and Marshwood should be pretty good."
Portland Coach Beth Arsenault thinks that type of assessment devalues the Hawks.
"I watched them at Play Day and they're going to be there again. They're not a fluke," Arsenault said.
"They have been building up and developing a program that has strong hallmarks (like) strong passing (and) they never bunch. They're doing it across the board with a really strong system."
Marshwood senior captains and fourth-year varsity players Sammy Crosman and Kaitlin Carr believe their team will continue to improve.
"Every single year we've improved so much," Crosman said, adding, "We did it together, so we just want to keep doing it together."
And if other teams still aren't taking Marshwood seriously?
"I guess they can think that," Crosman said. "We're just going to come out strong this year and play hard."
"Last year we weren't even a (Press Herald) Top 10 Teams to Watch and we ended up making it to states," Carr said. "We feel the pressure this year to be good again, but we're not letting it get to us."
The story of Marshwood's development starts with Truesdale's decision to take the head coaching job.
"I felt like this is where I live, this is my community. Do I have the energy to do this?" she said. "I got into it not really knowing everything that was needed."
She quickly realized that for the Hawks to improve at the varsity level, she would need to start a development program for youth players, girls like her own daughter, Lindsey Poirier, who is now a sophomore center midfielder.
That's led to more players in the program (45 this year) and the addition of a first team for freshmen and new-to-field hockey players, in addition to varsity and junior varsity teams.
"I'm starting to see where the level of player is changing," Truesdale said.
"You want to see a definite difference between varsity, JV and first team. As a coach it's a healthy competition. Kids know that they have to work to earn their spot, and that's the way it should be."
A season-opening 5-2 win against Sanford -- a squad often slotted above Marshwood by SMAA coaches -- followed by a 6-0 win at Portland showed the Hawks have enough firepower to be dangerous again.
(Continued on page 2)