KENNEBUNK – After Sanford High missed the Western Class A field hockey playoffs last year for only the second time in Diana Walker’s tenure, even she wasn’t sure what to expect this year.

Well, based on the first two games, the Redskins figure to be back in contention.

Sanford improved to 2-0 Tuesday, using an aggressive offense and stonewall defense to beat a pretty good Kennebunk team, 2-0.

The Redskins controlled play, scoring in each half and limiting the Rams (1-1) to one shot.

“Offensive pressure I like it,” said Walker, in her 29th season as Sanford’s head coach. “I was very pleased. That’s what we need. That’s what we didn’t have last year.”

That’s when the Redskins finished 7-7 and out of the playoffs. They are determined to get back into the postseason.

“Last year we had the potential to make the playoffs but we didn’t follow through,” said Caroline L’Heureux, who scored the second goal. “This year we really have to push through, and have the intensity and endurance to get through all the tough times.”

L’Heureux was one of several Redskins who had big games. Janelle Cannon had the other goal and worked well with L’Heureux on the forward line.

Defensively, Amanda Tierney, Tallyn Brown and Salena Helmreich were able to keep the Rams, who scored six goals in their opener, from getting any sustained pressure on goalie Sarah Stanley.

“It’s pretty simple,” said Tierney. “It was all about talking and getting the ball out of the circle. We talked a lot today. We made sure everyone was covered.”

Kennebunk Coach Kayla Hinkley was certainly impressed with Sanford’s defense.

“We definitely didn’t step to the ball and as a result, we saw a wall of red,” she said. “They were aggressive. Their girls wanted the ball.”

Once out of their defensive end, the Redskins kept going after Kennebunk goalie Katherine Cotton, who had 11 saves (and was aided by defender Jamie Dussault, who made two defensive saves behind Cotton).

Sanford scored first 9:57 into the game when Cannon deflected in a pass from Natalie Ledue.

Libby Griffin got the play started, gaining control in the right corner and sending a pass to Ledue in the middle of the circle.

She tapped the ball toward the left post, where Cannon was uncovered, and Cannon knocked the ball in out of midair for a 1-0 lead.

It stayed that way because of Cotton, who made several point-blank saves.

But with 9:04 left in the game, L’Heureux made it 2-0 off a penalty corner. Cotton had made a big save off Helmreich from the top of the circle, but the rebound bounced to the right, where L’Heureux controlled it and then flicked it in.

“The ball came off her pads and I just chased it down,” said L’Heureux.

“I knew we needed that goal because it would take some pressure off our goalie and give us a little wiggle room if we made a mistake.”

For Walker, the victory was a sign that the Redskins are becoming a more complete team.

“This makes me optimistic,” she said. “We know defensively there are going to be goals that are going to be scored, but you can’t win games if you don’t score. That’s been our main focus in practice.”


Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at [email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH