BY MATT DIFILIPPO

Staff Writer

By finishing ninth at the New England Small College Athletic Conference championships Saturday, the Colby men’s cross country earned its best finish at the meet since 2003.

“We’re running our best times ever since I’ve been coaching,” said Colby coach Jared Beers, in his seventh season as Mules coach.

The Mules were banged up heading into the meet. One runner twisted his ankle the day before and two others were under the weather. Beers felt freshman Chase Brown, in particular, could have finished in the top 50 at full strength. Brown placed 73rd at the meet.

Waterville graduate Jeff Hale, a sophomore, was first among Colby runners Saturday, with a time of 25 minutes, 41.09 seconds for 40th place. Sophomore Charlie Coffman ran a 25:48.71, and Beers believes they were the first Colby runners to go under 26 minutes since 2006.

“(Jeff) was a varsity guy for us last year,” Beers said. “He was our seventh man at regionals. He’s running about a minute faster than he did last year. Charlie Coffman, he’s doing similar stuff.”

Senior Brian Desmond was third among Colby runners at the conference championship meet, but the 4-5 runners were sophomores Ben Lester and Will McCarthy. Beers wants to finish in the top 10 in New England at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference meet Saturday, but he realizes the future beyond that looks good, especially with another strong recruiting class next year.

“We’re not done this year by any stretch,” he said, “but we definitely enjoy the fact that most of our scorers are in the freshman and sophomore class.”

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Two Waterville graduates got important points in recent games. Abbie Webster, a freshman on the women’s soccer team at Hamilton, recently scored her first collegiate point. Webster assisted on a goal by teammate Rachel Hirsch in a 5-0 win against Utica on Oct. 23. The goal was scored with one second left in the game. Hamilton ended the season with a 9-5-1 record after a 3-2 loss to Bowdoin in the NESCAC quarterfinals.

Ian Rowe, a senior on the St. Michael’s men’s soccer team, scored on senior day in a 1-1 tie with Assumption. Rowe headed in a goal less than 10 minutes into the contest to put the Purple Knights ahead.

Rowe, a midfielder, finishes his career with five goals and six assists in 61 games. St. Michael’s went 6-6-5 this fall.

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Thomas College will host Maine Maritime Academy in a North Atlantic Conference men’s soccer semifinal at 7 tonight. The Terriers earned the No. 1 seed by going 8-0-1 in the conference during the regular season and are now 13-2-2 overall.

Thomas has won seven straight, including a 1-0 victory over Maine Maritime Academy on Oct. 17. It was the only time in the streak that Thomas has been held to one goal, and the Terriers had a shot advantage of only 13-11 in that game. The Mariners defeated Thomas in double overtime in last year’s NAC playoffs.

Maranacook graduate Dakota Duplissie leads the Terriers with 22 points on eight goals and six assists, but the top gun for Thomas is junior forward Michael Hand, who has 10 goals and one assist in 10 games. Hand has not played since Oct. 17 due to a groin injury and is questionable for tonight’s game. Lawrence graduate Kyle Rabe has started every game at midfield for the Terriers.

Nicholas George leads MMA with 10 goals, five assists and 25 points. Other local players on the Mariners include Maranacook graduates David Clough and Gabe Giguere and Mt. Blue graduate Ben Russell.

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The University of Maine at Farmington field hockey team will play at Castleton at 1 p.m. today in a NAC semifinal. Castleton was 8-1-0 in league play this season while UMF was 7-2-0.

The Spartans beat UMF 5-3 at the same site on Oct. 13. Since that game, the Beavers are 3-1-0, with the only loss a 2-1 setback to Thomas in double overtime.

Lily Barry leads UMF with 37 points on 17 goals and three assists, but after that the scoring is balanced. Mt. Blue graduate Kaitlyn Bullen and Gardiner graduate Kashley Weymouth each have 17 points and three others are in double digits.

Castleton is unbeaten at home this season and has three big-time scorers in Kealy Chipman (23 goals, 13 assists), Rachel Preusser (20-10) and Blake Wardwell (16-1).

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The UMF women’s soccer team is also on the road today with a NAC semifinal against Colby-Sawyer at Proctor Academy in Andover, N.H. The teams met Sept. 29 in Farmington and the game ended in a 0-0 tie after two overtimes. Colby-Sawyer had a 21-15 advantage in shots.

Aside from that contest, UMF is averaging exactly three goals per game, led by Waterville graduate Kayla Tuttle with 13 and Alida Peake with 10. Junior goalkeeper Beth Lebel has started all 18 games and carries a 1.39 goals-against-average into today.

Colby-Sawyer is 6-0-2 over its last eight games. The Chargers have outscored their opponents 40-11, and keeper Shay Spencer’s 0.51 goals-against-average is 24th in the nation in Division III.

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Nokomis graduate Megan Perry has scored three goals this season as a freshman on the UMaine-Fort Kent women’s soccer team. UMFK is the two-time defending USCAA national champion and is 14-0-0 this fall.

The top-ranked Bengals begin the USCAA tournament at 1 p.m. today in Asheville, N.C. against host Warren Wilson College.

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Messalonskee graduate Sam Briggs had a strong showing in her first collegiate swim meet Saturday as a freshman for the University of New England.

UNE posted a 151-111 victory in a dual meet with Regis. Briggs won the 50-yard breaststroke with a time of 34.56 seconds. She also placed second in the 100 freestyle.

Briggs was third in the 500 free at the New Englands as a senior and also was part of Messalonskee’s 400 free relay team, which won the state title. Gardiner grad Suzanne Kropp, another standout local swimmer, is also a freshman on the UNE roster.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

mdifilippo@centralmaine.com