TOPSHAM — The high school field hockey season has arrived, and area squads have high expectations. 

Mt. Ararat’s Wyley Fitzpatrick jumps in front of a Messalonskee defender in Wednesday’s Class A North field hockey quarterfinal. Messalonskee won the game, 6-2. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

At Mt. Ararat, the Eagles will again play at the middle school, looking to build off a successful nine-win campaign.

There is a new leader at Brunswick in Carrie Sullivan, and Marcia Wood’s Freeport Falcons hope to take another step after reaching the Class B South regional final in 2018. 

Morse hopes to return to the playoffs after just missing out last year, while Lisbon will try to come out of the gates better after a tough end in the postseason. 

Mt. Ararat

Fans of the Eagles will see a lot of familiar names come their home opener on Thursday against another Eagles team, Messalonskee. This is a rematch of last year’s Class A North quarterfinal, won by the team from Oakland, 6-2. 

Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference First Team member Wyley Fitzpatrick returns, having led Mt. Ararat in scoring each of her first three seasons. The senior captain is joined by classmate Holly Temple (Capt., Second Team KVAC), which led Mt. Ararat in assists last year. Senior captain Brea Holtet (forward) also returns, along with seniors Gabe Head (sweeper), Lily Schenk (goalie) and Emma Lapreziosa (goalie). 

Veteran juniors Annie Wilkins (defense), Grace Morrell (defense), Hannah Huston (midfield) and Brynn Charron (forward) are also back in the fold. 

Looking for minutes this year will be junior Jaimey Weidner (midfield), senior Tegan Byrne (did not play last year), sophomores Megan Reed (defense), Paige Witwicki (forward), Greta Marchildon (defense), Lily Kosolosky (forward) and Charlie Smith (defense). 

Freshman Belle Hemond (forward) will also look to crack the lineup. 

“This year’s group came prepared,” Mt. Ararat coach Krista Chase said. They are hard workers who truly love the sport and work hard at it both individually and collectively. They are a skilled group who will need to put together a complete game in order to be competitive in KVAC (Class) A.”

Chase is looking for her team’s passing to improve, while also organizing a solid defense. 

“The passing game is developing and could be the key to team success. Defensively we are working on organizing a defense that is tough to penetrate, knowing some of the most prolific scorers in Maine are in our league,” said Chase. “The goalie staff is top-notch and is continually improving. More important than anything else is the positive hard-working team culture this group has committed to being a part of. That is what might be the difference in some close games.”

Brunswick

The Dragons went 5-9 last year in Karin Paquin’s final year at the helm. 

In steps Sullivan, who brings a lot of energy to her Brunswick team that will look to make the playoffs this season despite the loss of seven seniors to graduation. 

Leading scorer and senior Sarah Scrapchansky is back after tallying eight goals and dishing out four assists in 2018. Maddie Wayne, also a senior, had three goals and three helpers in her junior year, giving the Dragons a solid offensive core, along with sophomore Kelsey Sullivan (five goals, four assists). Seniors Grace Casey (midfield) and Mallory Palmer (midfield) bring experience to the lineup, with junior forward Lauren Jacobs looking to contribute. 

A challenge for Sullivan early is replacing goaltender Ainsley Harrower in the cage. Newcomer Liberty Krauss, a senior, hopes to shore up the goal, with help coming from senior defenseman Kristen Hummer. 

“This is a close, supportive group of players, and I believe that trust will carry onto the field,” said Sullivan, whose Dragons visit Mt. Blue on Saturday at 10 a.m. “Our attack has speed and is well supported by a versatile midfield.”

So far, Sullivan has seen a ton of energy. 

“Our first practice, I asked the team to start each day with energy and a positive attitude, and they have brought nothing less each day,” Sullivan said. “Every challenge I’ve presented they’ve attacked.”

The number are solid, allowing the Dragons to field a jayvee team thanks to 14 incoming freshmen. 

Freeport

The Falcons went farther than any field hockey team in the history of the program last year, advancing to their first regional final. 

It was troublesome York that stood in the way of a Freeport state final appearance after a tough 1-0 setback. 

Coach Wood has a solid core of players back but will still need to replace four key members of last year’s squad that finished 11-2-1 and knocked off Poland and Fryeburg Academy in the Class B South postseason. 

“We are comprised mostly of juniors who have been playing together for a few years now, both in season and out of season,” said Wood, whose Falcons host Greely at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. “They know where each other are going to be on the field and pass very well with each other. They are very unselfish.”

Senior Rachel Harmon (defense) is back, along with solid juniors Ally Randall (forward), Hannah Groves (forward) and Amelia Farrin (forward). 

Senior goaltender Piper Sherbert steps into the starting role between the pipes, with junior Meredith Feller (defense) and sophomore Kyla Havey (forward) expected to play big minutes. 

“We’ll play a very controlled passing game, something that will help us spread the field out, and giving the opportunities to transition the ball from one side to the other,” predicts Wood. “We need to be more aggressive. We lost some dynamic players from last year, and we need to pick up that slack and be quicker to the ball and more aggressive in front of the cage.”

Still, Wood feels her team is primed for another solid season. 

“I think we’ll be competitive. I expect closer games this year, but Piper and the defense have been playing very well and the forwards are starting to find their groove with their shooting.”

Lisbon

Julie Petrie begins her ninth year leading the Greyhounds, with her team coming off a 5-9-2 season and quarterfinal appearance in Class C South. 

Lisbon, which hosts Spruce Mountain on Wednesday (4 p.m.), will have to replace key two-way players. 

“We are a very young team,” said Petrie. “The enthusiasm and willingness to learn and try new things and be open to new strategies has been exciting to coach. They are adapting to the speed of a high school game and getting better each day. 

“The upperclassmen have been showing great leadership skills and pushing their team to grow. Team strengths will be tenacity, versatility and the ability to play numerous positions.”

Seniors Sadie Hardt (midfield/forward), Becky Budesheim (goalie) and Timber Mattson (midfield) will lead the Greyhounds, along with juniors Emma Willey (midfield), Megan Libby (defense) and Natalie Scott (midfield/defense).    

With a young team, sophomores Amelia Mooney (forward). Sarah Charest (forward), and freshmen Haley Tuplin (midfield), Laura Mockler (midfield), Loreesa Potvin (forward), Maddy Tuplin (midfield), Maria Levesque (goalie), Elle Picard (forward) and Emily Libby (defense) will be asked to step up early in their careers. 

“The incoming freshmen class adds depth, speed and versatility to the Greyhound lineup,” said Petrie. “This young team is eager to learn and hungry to compete. Blending the newcomers with the solid veterans could make for an exciting season. The goal is to be a contender come playoff time.”   

Morse

The Shipbuilders graduated a few key players but returns a bevy of veterans this season. 

Seniors Kim St. Pierre (midfield), Sydney Moore (defense), Paige Willis (wing), Abby Durgin (defense), Macey Coffin (forward) and Molly Cashman (defense) are back, along with sophomores Lily Clifford (midfield) and Addy Yung (forward). 

Head coach Kerri Reno also brings in solid newcomers in sophomores Isabel Strelneck (forward), Kennedy St. Pierre (midfield), Carol Skroski (defense), Grace Hawks (goalie) and Emily Myers (goalie), as well as freshman midfielder Dylan Barr. 

“I am very impressed with the way we have come out as a cohesive group,” Reno said. “These girls have been playing together for a few years now and they know what to expect from each other. 

“They were not happy with where we ended our season last year and are out to prove they are a competitive group. We have great leadership from our seniors, and the underclassman are eager to learn from them.”

Reno fells her Shipbuilders possess “lots of speed. We are also very smart and are coachable. This team is willing to get their hands dirty and become better players.

“We need to work on rebounds off the pads. We can not be a ‘one and done.’ We need to finish the ball into the net offensively. Defensively we need to cut our fouls in the circle. 

“We are going to have to fill the goalie role with a rookie. So, communication is going to be key for the defense.” 

Morse hosts Maranacook in its KVAC opener on Thursday at 4 p.m.

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