York’s Lexi Brent, right, is a co-captain and four-year starter for the Wildcats, who are one win away from a perfect regular season. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Because the 2020 fall sports season was modified and held without playoffs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, no one was quite sure what to expect this fall.

Well, in the case of Class B South field hockey, the results have been familiar, and York High is set to continue a remarkable streak.

With a 13-0 record heading into Monday’s regular-season finale against Cape Elizabeth, the Wildcats are a lock to be the top seed once again. They’ve entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed every year since 2013, and reached the state championship game each season. Since 2004, York has won 14 regional titles and four state championships.

Barb Marois, who returned to coach the Wildcats last year after stepping aside for two seasons to watch her children play sports at Dover High in New Hampshire, isn’t surprised by her team’s performance. A year ago, while most schools in the state were allowed to play modified schedules, the York School Department prohibited its athletic teams from playing other schools. And, in fact, Marois never even had a full team practice. Her players were divided into pods, practicing on alternating days.

“I think that because of what the girls missed out on last year, it makes them even that much more hungry and willing to work this year, almost to a fault,” said Marois, a member of the U.S. Field Hockey Association Hall of Fame and a two-time U.S. Olympic player. “They almost work too hard and try too hard. We had that discussion (Wednesday), they just need to enjoy the experience of playing again.”

Marois, whose career record is 271-48-10 in 19 seasons, said last year also helped her gain a new perspective.

“I think I have changed as a coach a little bit,” she said. “I’m appreciating the opportunity to play and coach and just what the girls had to go through and what they missed out on. I’ve said this to a number of people, ‘If I was a student-athlete going through this, I don’t think I would have handled it very well.’

“It would have been hard on me. So I’m trying to have that perspective for the girls and trying to understand what they’re going through, trying to make their experience a positive one.”

It helps to have really good players. Captains Sage Works and Lexi Brent, starters since their freshmen seasons, have been exceptional leaders. “They’re really leading the way,” said Marois.

Abby Dickson leads the Wildcats in goal scoring, followed closely by Works, Brent and Kristen Chipi. Abigail Armlin is also involved and leads the team in assists.

Going in No. 1 is always a goal, said Marois, but not the ultimate one.

“We’re fortunate to be in that position, but in some ways it poses its challenges, too,” she said. “It’s a place that’s not unfamiliar to the girls. … They also know the regular season is the regular season and the postseason is the postseason and they’re not the same. There’s an added sense of urgency.”

SITES AND TIMES have been established for the regional and state championships.

The regional finals will be held on Nov. 3, with games at 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The North regionals are at Mt. Ararat High in Topsham, while the South regionals will take place at Freeport High.

The state championship games will be played at Cony High in Augusta on Nov. 6. Games will start at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The exact order of games will be determined once all teams have been decided.

A SHORTAGE OF field hockey officials has prompted the Maine Principals’ Association to allow teams to begin the playoffs early if needed.

The last day for regular-season games is Oct. 19. With the MPA opting to use an open tournament this year, allowing all teams to qualify for the postseason, an extra round of playoff games has been added.

According to the MPA Field Hockey Bulletin, those preliminary round games will be played on Oct. 22 and 23. But because of the high volume of preliminary games – a total of 28 statewide, with eight in Class A South alone – there aren’t enough officials to cover the games if played on just those two days.

Sue Weatherbie, who assigns field hockey officials for southern Maine, said she has has a roster of 32 officials to cover 35 schools, including middle schools. She said there are about 82 officials statewide. She is hopeful some schools will decide to play earlier to help alleviate the situation.

Mike Burnham, the executive director of the MPA, said “if the two schools agree and would like to play earlier than (Oct. 22) we would allow that.”

Weatherbie noted she is down about 12 officials from the 2019 season, which was the last full MPA field hockey season. Last fall, the school’s played a modified regional schedule with no regional or state playoffs.

 

 

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