Freeport High, featuring a roster stocked with freshmen, went on a charge last year that surprised the state’s field hockey scene. The Falcons surged through the season’s second half, took down higher seeds in Cape Elizabeth and York in the Class B South playoffs, and then finally fell to Lawrence in the state final.

Surprising as that run was, it actually continued a pattern. The Western Maine Conference hasn’t had much trouble putting a representative in the Class B field hockey championship game.

Winning it, however, has been the tricky part. Over the years, the WMC has run into trouble against its northern foes.

“I didn’t realize until you said it. ‘Oh, that’s right,'” said Freeport Coach Marcia Wood. “I don’t know (why). I don’t know if it’s a different game, more of an aggressive game.”

The numbers stand out. Northern teams have won four of the last five Class B finals, with the one southern winner, Leavitt in 2021, coming from the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference. York won three straight titles from 2014-16, but the KVAC won the five before that. There have been 11 matchups between KVAC and Western Maine Conference teams in the Class B final since 2009, and WMC teams have gone 3-8.

“The games are usually pretty competitive,” said York Coach Barb Marois. “It would be nice to have it back on the southern Maine side, and be able to say we have the state champ.”


Wood pondered if a difference in the style of play has been a reason for the KVAC’s success.

“We did notice that it was more of a … big-hit game, where Western Maine Conference may be more of the little pass type of game,” she said. “That’s the only thing, and maybe a little more pushy and the Western Maine Conference isn’t used to the pushiness or the aggressiveness.”

Cape Elizabeth Coach Maura Bisogni said the KVAC teams from the northern region often have established programs and strong turnouts.

“I think, culturally, some of those schools have huge programs that just sort of feed themselves at the youth level too,” she said. “(They’re) big programs with longtime coaches, and I think those big schools up there have strong youth programs where some schools in the south are struggling.”

The Western Maine Conference, however, should have some title hopefuls this season. The easiest place to start is with Freeport, which returns high-scoring forward Emily Groves (24 goals) as well as forwards Reed Proscia, Liza Flower and Lilliana Larochelle and midfielder Lizalyn Boudreau, all of whom started or played key roles last year as freshmen. Defender Sydney Gelhar and forwards Anna Maschino and Sophie Bradford, all juniors, also are returning starters.

Freeport surprised some teams last season. That won’t be the case this fall.


“People are going to be bring their best game when we play them, which is super exciting,” Gelhar said. “It’s super-competitive, and you just always want to go back to that atmosphere.”

Groves said being a targeted opponent should help the team achieve the success it had last season.

“I think we all like the challenge,” Groves said. “That’s something we need. If we’re going to make it to the state championship, we need to be prepared. Those teams are going to prepare us.”

Having reached the title game already, the Falcons know they have the pieces needed to go on another run – and perhaps earn their conference a long-awaited state title.

“I think we could do it if we all really want it and work hard and work together as a team,” Boudreau said. “It’d be cool to go and break that pattern.”

Getting back won’t be easy. York was hit hard by graduation and has new players throughout the field, but Marois’ Wildcats have been without peer in their ability to remain a contender with new players. York last won fewer than 10 games in 2007, and has won at least 13 of 14 regular-season games 10 times in that stretch.


“Every year, (Marois) reloads,” Wood said. “I don’t know how she does it.”

Marois said she’s still figuring out the best mix for her team, which will be led by senior captains Ava Brent and Olivia Coite up front, seniors Emma Joyce and Sophia Luchette in back and junior Natalie Dickson in goal. York has only 16 players, and Marois said an ability to play multiple positions will be key.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll progress as the season goes on, and grow and get into a rhythm and a routine and get comfortable,” she said. “I’m anxious to see how things play out, but I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to progress as we have in the past.”

Cape Elizabeth lost much of its scoring punch, but Bisogni said a veteran defense in front of Zoe Burgard in net along with Lulu Stoecklein and Mia Frost playing up front should keep the Capers, 12-2 last season, in the running.

“If we can figure out goal-scoring, I think so,” Bisogni said. “We’re getting there.”

Yarmouth, which graduated no players from a team that went 8-6 and has a new coach in Bre Morrill, returns all-WMC first-teamer Colleen Lynch and could be a dark horse in the conference. Lake Region, led by senior midfielder Emma Nadeau, and Fryeburg Academy could challenge in the conference and region as well.

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