Zoe Burgard has been the goaltender of the Cape Elizabeth field hockey team for four years. “She’s great in high-pressure situations, cool as a cucumber,” says Capers Coach Maura Bisogni. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

With four first-year starters on the field, including three freshmen, Cape Elizabeth field hockey coach Maura Bisogni can wonder how they’ll hold up in the postseason.

Bisogni doesn’t have to ask that question about her goalie. In four-year starter Zoe Burgard, Bisogni knows she has a check mark in an important area.

“Zoe comes up big in big games,” Bisogni said. “There are not going to be any surprises from her. … We know she’s going to be solid, and she’s not going to panic.”

As the tournament heads into the regional quarterfinals, several coaches are in Bisogni’s position. Experienced, proven goalies dot the playoff fields in both the Class A South and B South tournaments, giving their teams the sort of player that, with a well-timed hot run, can steal a game or tilt the scales against a superior opponent.

“When someone like that makes a big save, it can turn the momentum of a game,” said York Coach Barb Marois, who has a two-year starter in junior Natalie Dickson. “That can be contagious. It can kind of boost a team when they need a boost or a pick-me-up, and get them pointed in the right direction.”

An example of this came last year when a freshman-laden Freeport team got a big boost from senior Piper Williams, who stopped 94% of shots faced while leading the third-seeded Falcons to their first Class B title game.


Having someone in goal who could turn in a performance like that – or just not buckle under the pressure of an opponent’s attack – is reassuring for a coach.

“The biggest thing that you want to do is trust your goalie,” Biddeford Coach Caitlin Tremberth said. “When you have that trust, everyone else can play comfortably, play their role.”

Such goalies abound this postseason. In Class A South, the list includes seniors Cadence Goulet of Biddeford, Trinity Valle of Noble, Jamila Mohamed of Scarborough, Megan Sheppard of Sanford and Jenna Nunley of Falmouth, all of whom are in their second or third years as starters and have dazzled at times for their teams this season.

It’s a similar story in Class B South, where Burgard, Dickson and seniors Quincey Schnee of Yarmouth and Reiyn Hart of Lake Region are among the goalies giving their teams a seasoned, calming presence in net.

“I feel like, out of all the seasons that I’ve coached, this year especially has been the one with the most depth in goal,” Tremberth said. “This year has been really goalie deep.”

She’s had one of the best in Goulet, a senior who posted six shutouts and a save percentage of 86.9 this fall, and who is headed to NCAA Division II Franklin Pierce next year.


“Her personality, and her intensity, and her experience, she (has) the perfect ingredients to be a really good goalie,” Tremberth said. “She does really well technically, her first step is good, her clears are strong. … Her decision-making is very good.”

Biddeford goaltender Cadence Goulet dives to stop a shot in a game last year against Cheverus. The senior posted six shutouts and a save percentage of 86.9 this fall. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

The same can be said about Goulet’s quarterfinal counterpart. Biddeford will face Noble and senior Valle, a three-year starter who stopped 90.5% of shots and who’s at her best when the pressure heats up.

“I like it a lot. It keeps me in a game, rather than if I’m not doing anything, and then fourth quarter I’m getting shots on me,” Valle said. “(The key is) keeping your head in it and staying with it, no matter what the score is.”

Scarborough endured an up-and-down season, but was still able to snag the region’s fourth seed largely because of Mohamed, who stopped 82% of shots this fall and was called the team’s “hero” by Coach Kerry Mariello during the season.

“Having that kind of backbone, so to say, is huge,” Mariello said. “When it comes down to playoffs, it comes down to handling of the pressure situation, and that’s where she shines. In those big games, she’s had some very, very impressive games and impressive saves.


“When she’s showing up in clutch moments, that’s when you know you’ve got somebody you need.”

Mohamed, who started last year, credited aggressive play, both physically and mentally, and better anticipation for her success.

“(Mariello) told me to ‘Let the animal out of the cage.’ That’s always stuck with me,” Mohamed said. “I’m more passive on the outside, aggressive on the inside. … But if the ball is coming at me, I’m going to let the animal out of the cage and run for the ball. In goal, I’m a completely different person than I am outside.”

Few goalies in either tournament have the experience Burgard does. She led the Capers through a litany of overtime and one-goal games en route to the Class B South final in 2021, and was in net when they went to the regional semifinals a season ago.

Bisogni knows she doesn’t have to worry about the stage being too big, or the pressure too intense, for her senior.

“She’s great in high-pressure situations, cool as a cucumber,” she said. “If she lets one in, she’s not letting in another one five minutes later. Any game we’ve lost this year, it doesn’t feel like it’s gotten away from us. … It keeps us in every game, which I think is really important.”


Burgard, who has stopped 84% of shots, said the nerves of a big game or delivering for her teammates used to get to her. They don’t anymore.

“The game’s the game, it doesn’t really matter what the stakes are,” she said. “It’s something that I really care about, I’ve done it all four years and I’ve had four years to swallow the whole ‘scared’ thing.”

The Capers will open as the fifth seed in B South at No. 4 York, and a goalie in Dickson who has notched seven shutouts, saved 86% of shots and developed into more of a leader and anchor behind the Wildcats’ defense.

“She’s trying to become more of a communicator and organizer. She’s a quick learner,” Marois said. “She’s a great athlete, so as much as she maybe lacks in terms of technical skills, she’s got some really great athleticism that comes in handy.”

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