BRUNSWICK – After spending much of her freshman season with the Bowdoin College field hockey team watching games from the bench, Kassey Matoin decided to do something about it.

“I promised myself that last summer I would work really hard and hopefully come back in better shape,” said Matoin, the only player from Maine on a Bowdoin team that will try to capture its third NCAA Division III championship in four years this weekend in Virginia.

“We had a summer workout program and I just made sure I followed that as much as I could,” Matoin said.

On most Sundays during the summer, Matoin, a 2009 graduate of Sanford High School, participated in a field hockey program at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“I tried to practice with my stick more,” she said.

Where?

“In my driveway.”

Matoin, who lives in Springvale, said she has always worked on her game, but her efforts intensified last summer.

“I just grew more dedicated to it,” she said. “I just had to get my head on straight and come back more confident. I just wanted to get more playing time this year.”

Matoin has developed into one of the Polar Bears’ top young players. She has scored 10 goals while playing 17 games and her shooting percentage of .647 is the best on the team.

“Her strength is she has an unbelievable work ethic and is very coachable,” said Nicky Pearson, in her 15th season as coach of the Polar Bears. “She will always do anything the team needs, a very selfless player.”

Matoin, the daughter of 1978 Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Tony Matoin, has become a more well-rounded player.

“She has very good offensive skills, but she’s made a real commitment to her defensive skills and has caused a lot of turnovers,” Pearson said. “She’s a very athletic player and her finishing skills are coming along very, very well.”

Bowdoin is making its fifth appearance in the Division III national semifinals.

The Polar Bears flew from the Portland Jetport on Thursday to Norfolk, Va. Today they will practice on Captains Field at Christopher Newport University in Newport News.

In Saturday’s semifinals, Messiah (18-2) will play Ursinus (20-1) at 11 a.m., and Bowdoin (18-1) will play Skidmore (20-1) at 2 p.m.

The winners will play for the national championship at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]