Thornton Academy senior Grace Pickering has been named the Journal Tribune Field Hockey Most Valuable Player for the 2015 season.

Thornton Academy senior Grace Pickering has been named the Journal Tribune Field Hockey Most Valuable Player for the 2015 season.

SACO — The Thornton Academy field hockey program made history this season as the Golden Trojans made their first ever trip to the state championship game. A big reason why TA was able to reach new heights was the leadership and play of senior Grace Pickering.

“Grace is the whole package. She is naturally competitive … her drive to win is huge,” said TA coach Lori Smith.

Pickering has put in the time and effort to become an all-around standout, according to Smith.

“She has the broadest skill set of any player I’ve coached. She has worked years on developing her skills, starting in the Saco Rec. Youth program all the way through high school on her club and high school team,” said Smith.

The senior improved each year she was in the TA program, according to Smith.

“I saw improvement and growth from Grace each year,” said Smith, who said Pickering improved her strength and conditioning between her freshman and sophomore year.

Smith started to see the incredible potential Pickering had during one game in her sophomore campaign.

“I remember the game against Scarborough her sophomore year, distinctly. She was frustrating the Scarborough players because she was beating them one-on-one out of our 16 yard hits. That’s when I knew she was on her way to becoming the most skilled player to play at TA,” said Smith.

A change in formation this season made Pickering even more dangerous, said Smith.

“We changed formations this year and Grace was our center midfielder. She is like the quarterback for our team. She is not the one that gets her name in the paper for scoring goals, but she is the one who often transitions our team from defense to offense,” said Smith. “She did so much for our team this year. She was the one taking most of our free hits, she was a striker on our offensive corners and she was the trail defender on our defensive corner unit. She was excellent as our trail defender where she worked well with Ali Ouellette, our flyer, and broke up several penalty corners in our semifinal game against Scarborough and our championship game against Cheverus.”

Smith also saw Pickering’s leadership skills improve this season.

“I saw Grace grow as a leader and teammate. She learned how to motivate her team in a positive way as the season progressed and when we were in tight games,” said Smith.

Pickering had plenty of help this season – especially from senior Libby Pomerleau, who along with Pickering, helped build the program into a state title contender.

“Our team was very lucky to have two players that are tremendously skilled and love to win,” said Smith of Pickering and Pomerleau. “Grace and Libby are great friends, which led to them being great captains and their leadership for our team was immeasurable. The other players could see their drive to win and it elevated everyone’s play in those close games. Both of them excel at other sports too, so I think their experience competing at a high level in their other sports carries over into leading our team.”

Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext. 322.

Journal Tribune Field Hockey All-stars

MVP: Grace Pickering, TA
Libby Pomerleau, TA
Taylor Ouellette, TA
Olivia Sandford, Kennebunk
Katherine Koch, Kennebunk
Jenny Cobb, Old Orchard Beach
Liz Helmreich, Sanford
Shannon Lebel, Sanford
Allison L’Heureux, Sanford
Emma Desrochers, Massabesic
Issy Capozzi, TA
Taylor Wildes, Biddeford
Liv Kudas, Kennebunk

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