In many respects Winslow High School senior Cassie Demers is the perfect candidate to take over as the team’s field hockey goalie this fall.

She’s quick, athletic and a three-sport athlete. Oh yeah, Demers has never played the position before. Say what?

There is no substitute for experience as the saying goes. But when it comes to manning the cage, athleticism stands above all.

“I don’t care if they’ve ever seen a game,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said.

Doughty’s current goalie, senior Leah Savage, comes from a gymnastics and track background which is why Doughty recruited her. She once approached softball pitcher Amanda Pomerleau in the school lunch line and asked her if she’d like to play the position her senior year. She accepted and helped the Indians to their first state title.

These examples aren’t meant to undermine the skill and experience necessary to play the position, rather to emphasize that an athletic base is where it all starts.

Demers is used to having things thrown at her. She’s the softball team’s catcher and the goaltender on the varsity hockey team. She’s learning there are vast differences between playing goalie in both sports. It begins with the dimensions of the cage and the goal. In field hockey, the cage is seven feet and six feet wide whereas a hockey goal is four feet high and six feet wide.

“The angles are harder because the field is so much bigger,” Demers said of field hockey.

Equipment is similar although field hockey pads are bulkier. Both wear blockers on their off hands but when it comes to sticks ice hockey goalies have over-sized ones to blocks shots and sweep away pucks, A field hockey goalie uses a stick barely larger than a field player’s and relies on it very little. Many of their saves occur when they kick away or deflect shots with over-sized boots called kickers.

“The biggest thing I’ve improved on is my footwork and core goalie fundamentals,” Mt. View senior Alexis Bowman said.

Bowman is a three-year starter for the Mustangs and like Demers has an athletic background And she enjoys nothing more than a game in which she’s peppered with shots.

“I have a very competitive drive just to be the best,” she said. “I try to work as best I can under pressure. I like to save an awesome shot.”

As the last line of defense, goalies often take the blame for goals and need to have short memories.

“You have to realize you’re not going to stop every ball,” Winslow coach Mary Beth Bourgoin said. “There are beautiful goals you’re never going to stop.”

Demers worries little about mistakes since her teammates have her back.

“My teammates are very supportive,” she said. “I can be very beneficial to the team.”

Bowman said she’s become much more aggressive since her senior year and ventures further out of her cage to challenge shooter and cut down angles, Doughty, who began coaching in 1974 and has won 17 state championships, has coached goalies who have made her blood pressure soar they come so far out of the cage. Other have been successful staying more at home.

“I let my goalies develop according to their own style,” she said.

Demers said she takes more chances in field hockey than on the ice because skaters can get around you more quickly and the puck moves faster from player to player. Aggressiveness aside, the position requires discipline and communication with defenders is paramount.

“They’ve got to be mentally tough,” Doughty said. “The best thing about (Savage) is her head.”

Bowman said she never gets bored playing goal and encourages her teammates when the ball is at the other end of the field, but Doughty said having a good field team can be a drawback since there are games in which her goalie only faces one or two shots. Even then there are no guarantees. She recalled a game in which her team out-shot its opponent 38-1 and lost 1-0.

The reverse has sometimes been true. In the 2015 regional final against unbeaten Messalonskee the Indians were out-shot 23-4 yet prevailed because of the spectacular play of then goalie Leah Kruse while stopped 22 shots.

Demers and Bowman will square off in the season opener Thursday in Thorndike and can barely wait for the action to start.

“I’m very nervous,” Demers said. “I’m definitely going to do the best I can. I have a lot of confidence in my defense.”