For years, Oak Hill has faced the challenge of building its program and keeping players interested, while at the same time being too far below the established teams in Class B to be competitive. This year, the Raiders are still in Western B, but they have moved to the Mountain Valley Conference, and most of their schedule is against Class C teams.

The timing of that move coincided with Oak Hill improving on the field, and the results are tangible and immediate. After winning one game last season, and a total of four games over the last three years, Oak Hill is 3-3-0 this fall after Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over St. Dominic.

“We just have great team chemistry,” second-year Oak Hill coach Brittany Stilphen said. “Last year, we were young. A lot of players who are starting have another year under their belt, so it’s working well for us.”

Oak Hill’s other wins this season were by scores of 3-0 against Telstar and 6-3 over Boothbay. The Raiders have already scored 12 goals this season.

“They just have a lot more confidence this year, obviously,” Stilphen said. “They are having a lot of fun.”

Freshman Kylee Veilleux had three goals against Boothbay, and her sister, Kayla, is a solid player at center midfielder. Center forward Hayley Marshall is also a threat.

The top 11 teams in Western B qualify for the postseason. Oak Hill is 10th in the Heal points. Stilphen admits she’s thought about making the playoffs, but it’s not her day-to-day focus.

“That’d be great if we do, but it’s a long way to go,” Stilphen said. “We still have lots to work on.”

• • •

There’s a reason coaches get giddy when they find a natural goal-scorer. It’s not just because of the goals that will get on the scoreboard. It’s also because natural goal-scorers can’t be taught, and are so hard to find.

“You can’t teach things like aggressiveness that’s kind of innate,” Gardiner coach Moe McNally said. “Sometimes up front you’re looking for kids who have the natural ability to be in the right place at the right time. I’ve always found it very difficult to teach offense.”

Like just about everyone else, McNally is hoping to develop another natural goal-scorer, even though that’s a bit of an oxymoron. Practice has been heavy with offensive drills, and forward Brooke Davis, a senior who didn’t start playing field hockey until high school, has made improvements.

“She’s really come on in the last few games, and figured it out, and is really leading our offense,” McNally said.

Gardiner’s game with Waterville today should be an interesting one. McNally has been saying all season that there is a lot of parity in Eastern B. Gardiner is 3-1-0, and the Purple Panthers are 3-2-0, with 12 eligible players on their roster.

“I know they’re down in numbers, but from what I’ve heard, they’re pretty feisty,” McNally said. “We’re looking forward to a pretty tight match, I would think, if everything holds true.”

• • •

While the reports aren’t official yet, McNally said she can say with confidence that the annual Drive Out Cancer Challenge met its goal of raising $20,000. The challenge is a series of games between Cony and Gardiner teams, with money benefiting the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care in Augusta.

“It’s a great week,” McNally said. “The committee met last week and went over how things went and what we could change. Everybody’s really excited again.”

• • •

Field hockey isn’t normally a sport for utility players, but that’s the best description for Nokomis sophomores Mikayla Charters and Kamryn Foss.

Foss and Charters have the attributes of good utility players: They can step off the bench and contribute immediately, they’re versatile, and they don’t mind playing a variety of positions.

“I use them to be a specific mark on a player if I need it,” Nokomis coach Katie Thompson said. “If we need a high forward that just needs to be the person running back and forth, we’ll use them for that. If we need another back, we’ll use them for that.

“They’re fine with it. They’re both really smart players, and they have a good physical presence on the field. So I feel like, no matter if they’re in a forward position, or a mid, or a back, they tend to be pretty reliable.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

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