Friday, March 7, 2014
By Kevin Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org
GORHAM - Rachel Litif walked through the crowded lobby at the University of Southern Maine ice rink, continually hearing variations of the same greeting.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Emily Johnson, Yarmouth/Freeport, sophomore: Totaled eight points in three games, including four goals and an assist in a 9-6 win over St. Dominic, and both goals in a 2-2 tie with Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete.
Drew Barry, Portland/Deering, senior: The crafty defenseman scored seven goals last week, including six in a wild 8-8 tie with Cheverus.
Madeline Ciraldo, Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete, senior: Cape got balanced scoring in an unbeaten week, led by Ciraldo’s hat trick in an 8-1 win over Portland/Deering.
Michelle Robichaud, Yarmouth/Freeport, sophomore: Recorded seven points last week, including four goals and an assist in a 9-6 win over St. Dom’s.
"Good game, Rachel."
"Way to go."
Every compliment produced a quick smile and a "thanks."
Litif had led Gorham/Bonny Eagle to a 9-2 win over Mt. Ararat. Now it was a reporter's turn to address her.
"So, Rachel, how did you do tonight?"
A slight pause.
"As a team, we played really well," Litif said. "In the end we started passing a lot, which was really nice. We were finding players open.
"And a lot of new skaters got a lot of time in this game, which will help us later."
"Yes, but Rachel how did you do?
"The team played well "
And so it went.
Gorham Coach Nat Germond chuckled when he heard about the conversation.
"That's Rachel," he said. "She had four goals and an assist, but she's a totally team-oriented kid, never one to talk about herself much. She's just that way and has always been."
Litif, 17, is a senior. She has starred on this team since her freshman season but never has acted the star.
"She's truly humble," Germond said. "She's led the team in scoring every year and never lords it over anyone.
"She distributes the puck well and tries to get everyone involved."
That says a lot about Litif. Gorham has struggled for wins. It would be easy for a stellar player to simply try to be a one-player team.
And indeed, Litif talks with gratitude about her team. She is one of the few Standish players on the team, and one of the two seniors, with Meg Towle.
"I think it's good that we're getting a bunch of girls out," Litif said. "It gives me a team to play on."
Litif is one of those who learned to skate shortly after mastering the walking thing. She's been playing hockey since she can remember, and almost always against boys. She came up through the Huskies Youth Hockey program at USM.
"My freshman year (in high school) was the first time I played against girls," Litif said.
She also plays soccer and lacrosse, but hockey is the sport she hopes to keep playing in college, whether it be Division III or club hockey. She plans to major in sports medicine or athletic training.
For now, Litif is leading a young team that continues to grow (14 skaters).
And while she gets her teammates involved, Germond sometimes orders Litif to ignore her nature.
"I have to tell her sometimes to be a little selfish with the puck," Germond said. "Like tonight (against Mt. Ararat) I said, 'you can distribute as much as you want, but we want to get a strong start. Be a little selfish and get a goal or two.'
"That's exactly what she did."
Actually, Litif got four goals. Not that she was going to tell you about it.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT'S marquee game features the two remaining unbeaten, untied teams in the West when Scarborough (3-0) meets York (2-0) at 8:30 p.m. at the University of Southern Maine.
York has been playing on the edge, with one-goal wins against Biddeford (1-0) and Brunswick (4-3).
Scarborough hasn't allowed a goal this season, including a 1-0 win over Lewiston.
LEAVITT/EDWARD LITTLE established itself as an early contender with a 2-1 win over defending state champion Greely last Saturday in Auburn. All-State forward Taylor Landry gave the Red Hornets a 2-0 lead with goals in the second and third periods before Paige Tuller answered for Greely.
Greely outshot Leavitt, 31-16.
The teams meet again on the last game of the season, Feb. 2, in Falmouth.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: