Falmouth/Scarborough girls’ hockey coach Rob Carrier speaks with his team during a practice at Casco Bay Arena in Falmouth on Monday. The two schools have formed a co-op this season, but there are just 11 players on the roster. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

FALMOUTH — Even as they played out the 2021-22 season, members of the Falmouth High girls’ hockey team knew it was coming.

They just had to look around the locker room and do the math. The Navigators were about to graduate four seniors off a roster with just 13 players, and no newcomers were expected with the incoming freshman class. In order to have a team in 2022-23, Falmouth would have to do what most other girls’ hockey teams in Maine have done in recent years: Find a partner school and form a co-op team.

“It’s been something I’ve been worried about for a few seasons,” said Coach Rob Carrier. “It’s something I felt needed to be addressed over the summer.”

Falmouth found its partner in Scarborough, another traditionally strong program hit hard by graduation in June. The Red Storm played in the state championship game last season, losing to Lewiston, but graduated nine of the 13 members off that team. Falmouth had advanced to the regional semifinals before being eliminated in four overtimes by the Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland co-op team.

Both schools have had success in girls’ hockey since the Maine Principals’ Association began sponsoring the sport in the 2008-09 season. Falmouth played in the state championship game three times between 2012 and 2017. Scarborough played in four state finals, winning it all in 2014.

“Falmouth and Scarborough, we produce a lot of high-performing teams. To be in this position is kind of heartbreaking,” said Morgan Adams, a Falmouth junior and a co-captain.


Despite those historical successes, the roster of the new co-op team is small. Just two Scarborough players – freshmen forwards Ella Yates and Hope Melevsky – elected to join the team. With junior defenseman Eve Chace, a co-captain, out for the season with a torn ACL, the co-op team has just 11 players on the roster. Last winter the two schools had 26 players in total.

When Falmouth and Scarborough formed the co-op, it was thought the Red Storm would send four to six players. But Scarborough players who could have returned from last season’s team decided to not play hockey this season, focusing instead on training for their other sports over the winter.

Falmouth senior Emerson Roy, right, smiles while the Falmouth/Scarborough girls’ hockey team stretches before a practice at Casco Bay Arena in Falmouth. Roy, a co-captain of the new co-op team, says of the newcomers from Scarborough, “They fit in immediately.” Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

It was easy to welcome the newcomers and set aside rivalries Falmouth and Scarborough have in other sports.

“Honestly, the two who came (Yates and Melevsky) are amazing. They fit in immediately,” said Emerson Roy, a Falmouth senior and co-captain.

Forming a co-op girls’ hockey team has gone from being an exception to the norm in Maine.

This season, 16 teams are participating in the MPA’s girls’ ice hockey season. Of those, just two – Lewiston and Brunswick – consist of players from a single school. Of the 14 co-op teams, 10 include players from three or more high schools. A team based in central Maine features players from eight high schools: Winslow, Gardiner, Cony, Lawrence, Messalonskee, Maranacook, Erskine and Mt. Blue. A new team this season, the Penobscot Pioneers, consists of players from Brewer, Bangor, Hampden, Hermon, John Bapst, Orono and Old Town high schools.


In some cases, schools are losing hockey players to private schools. Adams said a large majority of her club team is made up of players who attend schools like North Yarmouth Academy, Kents Hill and Hebron Academy, all of which play a prep hockey schedule instead of playing in the MPA.

“That’s part of it, but that shouldn’t devastate a whole league,” Chace said.

Falmouth/Scarborough co-captain Morgan Adams works the puck down the ice during a practice at Casco Bay Arena. Adams says she and her more experienced teammates are ready and eager to help anyone who wants to try hockey. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Recruiting new players at the high school level is difficult. For a new player who needs to learn how to skate, it can be intimidating to get on the ice with teammates who have skated for years. Chace pointed to Addie Morneault, a Falmouth sophomore, as a player who accepted that challenge. A novice skater, Morneault went from being unable to stop on her skates just a month ago to now being able to contribute to Falmouth/Scarborough.

“She’s new, and she’s improved her skating and shooting so much,” Chace said.

Adams said she and her more experienced teammates are ready and eager to help anyone who wants to try hockey.

“A lot of kids, they don’t want to do something if they’re not going to be the best at it,” Adams said. “Every time you step on the ice, you get that much better.”

The new co-op team was hit by another concern that high school teams across the state have dealt with over the last few seasons: COVID-19. When a few players tested positive for the virus last week, a pair of games had to be postponed because Falmouth/Scarborough didn’t have enough healthy players.

Carrier expects the team’s participation numbers to rebound in the next few seasons, pointing to the number of girls playing middle school hockey in both Falmouth and Scarborough. Right now, the Navigators are looking forward to getting in Wednesday’s game against St. Dominic’s/Winthrop/Monmouth. Falmouth/Scarborough hasn’t played since an opening-night loss, 4-2, to Biddeford/Thornton Academy/Wells/Sanford on Nov. 26.

“So far, they’ve blended well. We’ve got really good leadership with our captains. They welcomed the two new freshmen Scarborough girls in,” Carrier said.

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