The East won only one of the three state field hockey titles Saturday at the University of Maine. But for the second consecutive year, the East made a clean sweep of the nominees for the Miss Maine Field Hockey Award.
The award is given annually to the top senior player in the state, and on Monday, the Maine Field Hockey Association announced the four finalists: Messalonskee’s Kristy Bernatchez, Skowhegan’s Sarah Finnemore, John Bapst’s Elise Tilton, and Belfast’s Julia Ward.
The winner will be announced at the MFHA’s banquet Dec. 1 at the Augusta Civic Center.
Bernatchez will play at the University of North Carolina next fall, while Finnemore will play at Harvard.
“I think it definitely shows that we’re extremely strong up here,” Messalonskee coach Katie McLaughlin said. “The girls have a ton of heart, and put in the time in the offseason. They may play other sports as well, but field hockey is where their heart is. It’s incredible.”
After scoring a total of 20 goals over the last two seasons, Bernatchez exploded for 47 goals this fall, including the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship game. She’s also a member of the United States U-19 national team.
“On our team, she’s the definite leader,” McLaughlin said. “She’s a kid that could easily take off a practice here and there and be fine, but she always gave 110 percent and pushed her teammates to do better.”
Bernatchez was not only an offensive force, but played a key role on defensive penalty corners for the Eagles, and often rotated back into the cage as the last line of defense.
“She just does a phenomenal job on both ends of the field,” McLaughlin said.
Finnemore, a center midfielder, scored 31 goals and had 22 assists this season. She finished her career with 77 goals and 56 assists, setting the school’s all-time career assist record in the process. Like Bernatchez, Finnemore’s skills extended to all areas of the game.
“She was really the quarterback of the team,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “Sarah was our flier on corners, and when she wasn’t the fly, she was the cover person. She was our primary shooter on offensive corners. She was the whole deal.”
Doughty said she thought Finnemore had the best stickwork of any high school player she’s seen in Maine. Finnemore is a member of the junior national indoor team.
“All you’ve got to do is watch her,” Doughty said. “Her stick and the ball are basically one.”
Finnemore’s teammate Makaela Michonski had 48 goals this season, including the KVAC game, but was not one of the four finalists.
“To be nominated, you have to meet certain criteria,” Doughty said. “Some of those are playing at national festival, being an all-state player, participating in futures (programs).”
Tilton was an all-state selection as a sophomore and junior as a high-scoring forward for John Bapst. Ward was recognized as one of the top goalies in the state, and led Belfast to the state title as a junior and the Eastern B title this fall.
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243