Weather permitting, Skowhegan and Messalonskee will have their first regular-season meeting at 2 p.m., Saturday in Oakland. The Indians and the Eagles have played each other in the Eastern A field hockey final in each of the last four years.

The game was originally scheduled for the new turf complex at Thomas College, but that won’t be ready until next week. The grass field at Messalonskee — especially if it’s soaked by rain — is a much different surface than turf.

“I don’t think either of us like playing on grass,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “The game today is not a grass game. The more advanced players like to play on turf.”

Skowhegan has played one game on turf this season, posting an 11-0 victory over Hampden on Tuesday. The Indians blanked Mt. Ararat 5-0 in their other game this fall.

“At Hampden, my kids, it was like you just set ’em free,” Doughty said.

Messalonskee also has some fine turf players, but coach Katie Gorham had a different view of the surface.

“My girls have a lot of experience on both,” she said. “It is what it is.”

The Eagles have won both their games this season, defeating Brunswick 8-0 and Lawrence 2-0.

“I think every single game, we’re getting better and better,” Gorham said. “Kristy Bernatchez, she’s a huge presence on that field. She’s a great supporter, and really makes everyone around her more successful.”

Bernatchez will play at North Carolina next season, while Skowhegan standout Sarah Finnemore plans to play for Harvard.

“In this game, we have one player (Bernatchez) who’s on the U.S. U-19 team, and one player (Finnemore) who’s on the U-19 indoor team,” Doughty said. “That’s a feat in itself.”

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Lawrence’s roster was overhauled by graduation, and the Bulldogs started five freshmen in their loss to Messalonskee. But Lawrence, which is also coping with several injuries, was competitive in that game and controlled play in a 1-0 victory over Edward Little.

“We’re playing really well,” Lawrence coach Lisa Larrabee said. “We’re a pretty little team.”

Lawrence has come quite a ways just since last month. The Bulldogs lost to Winslow (a strong Class B team) by a 5-1 score in preseason, but also produced a 4-2 victory over Mt. View in another exhibition game.

“We put two games together — three if you count a scrimmage,” Larrabee said. “Our best hockey is still to come, and that’s why I’m excited. They’re just very quick learners.”

Through a scheduling quirk, the Bulldogs have only three of their first 10 games at home. Their first game in Fairfield is this afternoon against Brunswick.

“We have a jammed schedule,” Larrabee said. “We’re playing four games in seven days. I want us to improve our individual skills each day and I want us to grow and communicate as a team. My goal is to be competitive, improve it each game and peak late in the season.”

* * *

Winthrop was expected to be good and there hasn’t been a letdown yet. After graduating only two players from last year’s Eastern C champions, Winthrop is averaging close to 30 shots per 60 minutes and has outscored its opponents 16-0 in three games. The Ramblers have a super goalie in Alyssa Arsenault, but she hasn’t been called on very often.

“We’re using a more offensive lineup than we did last year, and we’re hoping that we can continue to do that,” Winthrop coach Sharon Coulton said. “Alyssa hasn’t had to make many saves yet — just a couple so far, and you’re not going to get through a season that way.”

Coulton said the passing has been better this season, especially in the offensive circle. Forwards Mary Claire Blanchard, Rachel Ingram, Lauren Kaiser and Emmah Spahr are all producing.

“(Assistant coach) Jess Merrill has been working with them in practice on transitioning from one end of the field to the other,” Coulton said. “I’m really pleased with the improvement that we’re seeing from the offense, in particular the forward line.”

The Ramblers play an improving Hall-Dale team on Friday and will get a good test Monday at home against Mountain Valley.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]


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