FREEPORT — Maya Bradbury has always seen the potential in Freeport High’s field hockey team.

Now, as a senior link, she’s seeing it fulfilled.

“It’s pretty amazing,” she said at a recent practice. “Last year, we did pretty well. But this year, we have a ton of new freshmen and it’s really been pretty cool to see the team grow. We’ve had a lot of potential for, basically my whole time here, but to really see that and act on it has been really great.”

The Falcons are seeded fourth in Class B South with a 9-4-1 record – their best season in about a decade. Freeport will play No. 5 Lake Region in a quarterfinal at 3 p.m. Tuesday, seeking to advance to a regional semifinal for the first time since 2002, when the Falcons were in Class C.

Freeport moved to Class B in 2013 and has been eliminated in the quarterfinals each year.

“This playoff run is going to be interesting,” said Marcia Wood, who became Freeport’s coach in 2013. “Nobody is untouchable.”

While three-time defending Class B state champion York is the No. 1 seed, the Wildcats aren’t huge favorites like they’ve been in the past. York lost to sixth-seeded Greely and had two one-goal wins over Lake Region and two tough games with No. 8 Fryeburg Academy. No. 2 Yarmouth split with No. 3 Poland, lost once to York and tied the Wildcats, and also lost to Freeport, which lost to Greely and Poland in overtime.

Freeport’s other losses were against York and Class C powerhouse St. Dominic Academy.

Wood said the win over Yarmouth was the signature victory her team needed.

“One thing I preached to the girls all year is that we needed that big win, the game we should win if we played well against a good team,” she said. “That was Yarmouth. It gave them the confidence to keep playing.”

Junior link Alexa Koenig, generally regarded as Freeport’s best player, said that victory showed the Falcons they could be contenders.

“In the preseason, I was a little nervous, because we scrimmaged a couple of teams and we weren’t really together yet,” said Koenig. “But two or three games into the season, I thought that we had something to build on. After that Yarmouth win, that was a crucial point, I said, ‘OK, this is serious. We know we can do this.’ It was amazing.”

The Falcons have been boosted by a strong group of five freshmen who have not only added talent but depth.

“I knew our upperclassmen had been participating in offseason things, getting better, working more and working out more,” said Wood. “And we had that big freshman class that was also dedicated to improving their skills. This was one of the first years I’ve felt that we not only had a lineup, but a bench that could go in as well. We wanted fresh legs in the game, but we didn’t want to change the intensity of the game when we put them in.”

Natalie Anderson, a junior, leads the Falcons with 13 goals, and freshmen Hannah Groves and Ally Randall each have six goals. Koenig has five goals and seven assists.

“She’s the one getting the ball up the field, playing good defense and taking the ball away from the other team,” said Wood. “She’s the playmaker.”

Both Koenig and Bradbury said there is a positive vibe to this team.

“Our team has grown closer,” said Koenig. “We’ve not only learned to tune our skills, but to play as individuals and play as a team. I think the team dynamic has been very important. We know how to work together.”

“This is a very close group of girls,” said Wood. “There’s a lot of unity and they all complement each other. And I think they all have the same goal.”

Winning at least one playoff game would added toward building a foundation for the future.

“We know that feeling of being lower on the chain among teams,” said Koenig. “With our momentum, we’re getting to the point where we know we’re up there and we’re good. It’s meant a lot not only to our team, but our program. When people hear Freeport field hockey, they know now that we are competitive.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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