Becca Paradee eased into her second season with the University of Maine field hockey team after an ankle injury suffered late in the summer stalled her training.

There isn’t much slowing the Gardiner native down now.

“I’m getting more playing time now,” Paradee, 19, said. “I’m real excited. I feel a lot more confident and a lot more comfortable on the field now.”

Paradee starts at left midfield for the Black Bears (10-8) after playing primarily as a back last season.

She forced her way into the starting lineup after a strong spring season, coach Josette Babineau said.

“She worked hard in the offseason,” Babineau said. “She’s a strong defender but we moved her to the midfield. She really improved a lot in the spring. She developed her skills and she starts every game for us now.”

It took awhile for Paradee to recover from the ankle injury. While her teammates were training throughout the summer, Paradee could only watch and wait for the ankle to heal.

“It ran into the preseason,” Babineau said. “It took a little bit to get her going.”

Added Paradee: “It was tough. In the spring season, it gave us a chance to really improve. We could go over strategies a lot more. There was more individual coaching in the spring and we really got to know what we had to work on. But then I hurt my ankle and I was out eight weeks in the summer. I’m glad it happened in the summer, though, and not during the season.”

Paradee has one goal on four shots in 16 games for the Black Bears. She registered just one assist last season. She started 14 games last season.

“The first year, it’s a big jump from high school to Division I,” Babineau said. “You are on turf and there are much different strategies. It takes time to adjust, to figure everything out. The transition is so important, and Becca has really done well.”

Paradee acknowledged it took time before she felt comfortable playing at the Division I level.

“I was pretty scared at first,” Paradee said. “But now I know what to expect. I love it. I love being out there.”

Paradee is one of 15 players on the roster who are either freshmen or sophomores. The young Black Bears feature just three seniors. Senior captain Zoe Adkins, who plays back and midfield, said Paradee and the rest of the underclassmen are developing nicely.

“She’s playing a key role for us,” said Adkins, who’s fourth on the team in scoring with four goals. “She plays an important role on the field and it’s amazing how much she has improved. It’s been quite interesting with so many underclassmen. We’ve had our ups and downs but we’re coming together now.”

Maine closes the regular season Saturday in Orono against New Hampshire.

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

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