AUGUSTA — Everyone involved with the Messalonskee High School field hockey team knew senior Kristy Bernatchez has a hard shot. After practice on day, coach Katie McLaughlin decided to test Bernatchez’s shot against a radar gun.
“We clocked her shot at 70 miles per hour,” McLaughlin said in her introduction of Bernatchez as a Miss Maine Field Hockey finalist.
Bernatchez scored a state-record 45 goals this past season. On Sunday afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center, Bernatchez capped her incredible senior season by winning the Maine Field Hockey Association’s Miss Maine Field Hockey award. Along with her 45 goals, Bernatchez had 14 assists this past season, leading the Eagles to the Class A East championship game. A three-time Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference first team selection, Bernatchez finished her high school field hockey career with 70 goals and 31 assists.
“I was extremely surprised,” Bernatchez said of her win. “It could have gone to any of the four of us.”
Joining Bernatchez as finalists were Sarah Finnemore of Skowhegan, Elise Tilton of John Bapst and Julia Ward of Belfast.
Bernatchez is the first player from Messalonskee to win the award.
Bernatchez thanked her family, McLaughlin and her coaches with the Majestix club team. Field hockey in Maine is quite competitive, she said. She encouraged young players to take advantage of the opportunities they’re provided.
“It’s very exciting to see little Mainers doing big things,” Bernatchez said. “Whether they know it or not, this is one of the best places to play the game.”
Along with the Miss Maine Field Hockey presentation, the Maine Field Hockey Association honored its all-academic and all-state teams. The Steph Lunt 12th Player Award went to Hannah Huntress of Thornton Academy.
Josette Babineau, the head field hockey coach at the University of Maine, was presented the President’s Award for her contributions to field hockey in the state.
The 1975 University of Maine field hockey team was inducted into the Maine Field Hockey Association Hall of Fame. Playing just a few years after the implementation of Title IX, which called for equal access to athletics for women and men, the Black Bears finished second in the regional championship tournament at the University of Massachusetts. They went on to place eighth at nationals, and were the first women’s team allowed to compete out of state for the University of Maine.
“It’s good for these girls to hear the stories and learn what it was like before they had these opportunities,” said Nokomis coach Katie Thompson, President of the MFHA.
Bernatchez will continue her field hockey career at the University of North Carolina. The Tar Heels went 23-2 this past season, falling to Princeton 3-2 in the national championship game. Bernatchez said she’ll continue to work out and will join the Tar Heels at camp in August.
“I need to be in the best shape of my life,” Bernatchez said.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242