Kennebunk’s Samantha McGrath scored 17 goals and assisted on six others this season. For her career, she had 24 goals, 17 assists and two defensive saves. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Lori Smith, the field hockey coach at Thornton Academy, first noticed Kennebunk High’s Samantha McGrath as a freshman. Even then, said Smith, you could tell she was going to be a special player.

“Sam established herself as an elite player early on,” said Smith.

Samantha McGrath

She never stopped refining her skills. McGrath ended her Kennebunk career recognized as the best player in the state. Not only did she win the Miss Maine Field Hockey award, given annually to the outstanding senior player in the state, she is also our choice as the Varsity Maine Player of the Year in field hockey.

“Having been a coach for over 13 years, there are player styles, attitudes, characteristics, or even appearances, where you say, ‘Oh, Alice reminds me so much of Jane,'” said Kennebunk Coach Kayla Billings. “We will never see another Sam McGrath. She is a shining star that burns so brightly she is out of this universe. Her physical skills are exceptional and she has worked tirelessly to refine those skills.”

Thornton’s Smith talked about McGrath’s ability to receive a pass on a penalty corner and get off a shot so fast that no one, including the goalie, had time to react. “She also can defend on both sides of her body, a skill that most high school players haven’t mastered,” said Smith. “Sam does so much on the field and does it well, she stands out in every game I have ever watched.”

McGrath helped the Rams reach the Class A South quarterfinals, where they lost to eventual state champ Cheverus. Despite facing a double-team whenever she had the ball, she scored 17 goals and assisted on six. For her career, McGrath had 24 goals, 17 assists and two defensive saves.

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Field hockey has always been her favorite sport since she began playing it in the third grade, said McGrath, who also has played lacrosse and tennis at Kennebunk.

“I really like the culture that field hockey provides,” she said. “Pretty much everyone in it is kind and supportive of each other, whether we’re teammates or opponents. I guess that’s just the nature of the game. And I like how everyone has an equal chance to play the ball. It’s not like lacrosse, where you can hold onto the ball. In field hockey, it’s anyone’s game at any time.”

McGrath said she does not want to be recalled as simply the most skilled player but as “someone who put her teammates first, you know, the Miss Maine Field Hockey embodiment: someone focused as much on sportsmanship and being a team player.”

Billings said she accomplished that goal easily.

“Her gift to our program was not reflected on our all-time stats board,” said Billings. “What she leaves is a legacy of love and respect for the game. She has been the ultimate role model since she stepped on that field.”

McGrath plays travel field hockey with Coastal Field Hockey, under Sally Cloutier. She recently signed a letter of intent to play at St. Michael’s College, an NCAA Division II program in Vermont, where she plans to study environmental studies.

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