The Cheverus co-op girls’ hockey team celebrate after defeating Yarmouth/Freeport, 3-2, to win the state title in February. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

1. Cheverus/Windham/Old Orchard Beach: The defending state champion, the Cheverus co-op team lost one player to graduation and is built to make a run at another title. While depth is a concern to Coach Scott Rousseau, the talent the Stags bring at every position is obvious. The Stags are built from the net out, with two extremely capable goalies in senior Ella Lemieux and sophomore Ellie Skolnekovich. Lemieux’s career goals-against average is 1.26 and Skolnekovich filled in well when Lemieux missed time with an injury last season. Defensively, Varsity Maine All-State player Brynn McKenney and Lily Johnson, both seniors, lead the way, and one of them is on the ice almost every minute. Junior Lucy Johnson, the 2023 Varsity Maine girls’ hockey Player of the Year, leads the offense, coming off a 26-goal, 24-assist season. Mikayla Talbot (22 goals, 25 assists) is another top scoring threat and Charlotte Miller is a strong two-way center. Freshman Caroline Rousseau could be an immediate offensive contributor.

2. Yarmouth/Freeport: While the Clippers graduated Sadie Carnes, winner of the Becky Schaffer Award as the top senior in the state, the team returns a talented group that can make a run to a second consecutive state final. Coach David Intraversato has three solid lines that each can provide an offensive spark. Centers Sophie Smith (23 goals, 10 assists last season) and Rosie Panenka (17 goals, 18 assists), along with wing Emma White (eight goals, 13 assists) will lead the forwards. Defensively, Yarmouth/Freeport returns Varsity Maine All-State selection Amanda Panciocco, a senior who is great in transitioning the team from defense to offense, picking up 17 assists last year while finishing at plus-51. Sophomore Adelaide Strout looks to build on a strong freshman season in which she had 22 points and was plus-45 on the blue line. Yarmouth/Freeport is young in goal, with freshman Lexi Wiles and sophomore Elle Grondin both expected to see time in net. The Clippers will be pushed for the North crown by Penobscot, the Bangor-area team that finished regional runner-up last season, and Brunswick.

3. Brunswick: Despite being the only girls’ hockey program playing MPA competition to not be a co-op team, Brunswick sees depth as a strength. The Dragons have 24 players in the program and are looking to build off a season in which they won 12 games and reached the regional semifinals. Last season was a nine-win improvement from 2021-22. With four of the top five scorers back from last season, Coach Chris Ledwick feels that improvement has taken root. Junior defender Elysia Palmer (17 goals, five assists) and junior forward Lauren Labbe (25 goals, nine assists) lead the Dragons. Sophomore Solveig Ledwick (10 goals, 12 assists) is another returning defender who can also provide offense. Sophomore Quinn McCormack also returns on defense. Gillian Countway had a strong freshman season at forward, with seven goals and 11 assists, and will look to take another step in her development. In goal, Sensia Ley and Hensleigh Labonte will split time. Seniors Celeste Braillard, Allie Tatham and Sydney Drake will provide leadership.

4. Portland/Cape Elizabeth/Deering/South Portland/Waynflete: One of the strongest programs in the state got a little stronger this season with the addition of Portland and Deering to the Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete co-op. Known as the Beacons, the team has two players who earned Varsity Maine All-State honors last season. Junior forward Marina Bassett scored 30 goals with 19 assists for the Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete team last season, including 13 goals over the final five games of the regular season. Junior defender Jane Flynn led the state in scoring for Portland/Deering last season, scoring 37 goals with seven assists, having a hand in 44 of her team’s 56 goals. Forward Libby Hooper and defender Harston Mosunic return after earning all-region honors from the Maine High School Girls Hockey Association last season.

5. Gorham/Fryeburg/Massabesic/Lake Region/Westbrook: Last season, the Gorham co-op team was arguably the most improved team in the state, jumping from five wins the previous season to 13 and a spot in the South championship game. Although the Rams lost some talented players to graduation, the returning squad has the talent to make another deep run in the playoffs. It starts with senior forward Emerson Homa. A Varsity Maine All-State player last season, Homa scored 25 goals and chipped in eight assists and will be the team’s offensive catalyst again. Defender Greta Grant can anchor the blue line or jump into the rush and make a play, while Marissa Payne is another offensive threat after scoring 13 goals with five assists last season, and will see time at defense or forward. Junior forward Katelyn Cyr and freshman defender Azalea Grant could also be major contributors. With the graduation of goalie Ellie Keil, junior Emily Beal takes over in net for the Rams.

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