Monday, December 9, 2013
By Matt DiFilippo email@example.com
At 11-2-1 heading into the Eastern C field hockey playoffs, the Winthrop players met their goal of proving they were still one of the top teams in the league. Next up for the Ramblers is the Mountain Valley Conference championship game, against Spruce Mountain at 3:30 this afternoon at Dirigo High School.
• Hall-Dale’s Molly French made 28 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss to undefeated Spruce Mountain.
• Lilly Chepke scored four goals for Gardiner in a win over Maranacook.
• Cony’s Arika Brochu had two goals as the Rams posted a 2-1 victory over Lawrence.
Winthrop played Spruce Mountain (13-0-1) once this season, losing 3-1 at home on Sept. 20.
“We’re kind of taking it as it’s one step to get us closer to the playoffs,” Winthrop coach Jess Merrill said. “Of course, we want to win, but that’s not really our goal. We’re looking for next week.”
After allowing a total of eight goals in their first 12 games, the Ramblers lost 6-1 to Lisbon on Friday. That led to a team meeting, and Merrill and the players opted to switch some players around.
“We kind of had a Debbie Downer with Lisbon the other day,” Merrill said. “We haven’t changed our formation, just who plays where.”
Merrill said the players have bought in to the new setup, and it appears the Ramblers were able to take some good from the loss to Lisbon.
“I think, honestly, it’s one of the best things that could have happened to us,” Merrill said. “They’re resilient. They like where they are now. They bounce back really well.”
• • •
When Gardiner hosts Brewer in an Eastern B quarterfinal Wednesday, some of the Tigers fans might have to get a reminder and ask for directions to the field. Gardiner hasn’t had a game at home since Sept. 24, when the Tigers beat Erskine for Moe McNally’s 400th career win.
The Tigers had one home game on the schedule during that time, but it was moved to Thomas College. So Gardiner will actually be going more than four weeks between games on its own field.
The playoff game will also be senior day for the Tigers. Of greater concern to McNally is that Gardiner has not allowed a shot on goal in any of its last four games, and goalie Emalee Couture is sure to see more pressure in the playoffs.
“We’re going back to the basics, as we always do prior to the tournament,” McNally said. “We’re going to scrimmage Cony at Thomas next week. That’ll be a good test for us. My job at this point is to get the kids ready. I’m confident we’ll be ready come Wednesday.”
Gardiner’s offense certainly won’t have to worry about rust. Madeline Reny is closing in on 20 assists, Nickyia Lovely leads the Tigers in scoring, Ellen Kelley made a huge step forward over the second half of the season, and Lilly Chepke has been a big surprise this fall.
“There haven’t been too many years in Gardiner where we’ve talked about offense,” McNally said. “Defense is usually our forte. This year, more than ever, we’re multi-dimensional.”
• • •
There have been two distinct parts to Lawrence’s season. The Bulldogs lost on opening day to Mt. Blue, then ripped off eight wins in a row. A heart-breaking 3-2 overtime loss to Messalonskee on Oct. 1 started a down stretch, and the Bulldogs are 0-4-1 over their last five games.
The good news for the Bulldogs is that none of that matters. Lawrence still secured a first-round home playoff game, and hosts Oxford Hills next Thursday in the Eastern A quarterfinals. Lawrence defeated the Vikings 1-0 on Sept. 21 at Thomas College.
“We had a down stretch, and we didn’t bounce back, so what we’re doing different is — it’s a whole season,” Lawrence coach Lisa Larrabee said. “We’re approaching it as a fresh start.”
The Bulldogs have scored a total of two goals over their last four games. Even considering that the first two of those games were against superb defensive teams in Skowhegan and Messalonskee, you still have to score to win. Larrabee said the Bulldogs have tweaked their formation in preparation for the playoffs.
“We need to score, and we need to score more than one goal,” Larrabee said. “We need to have a sustained attack, and have more of a presence on attack.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243