Thomas College women’s basketball player Karin Bird was the leading scoring in the country this winter. This fall, men’s soccer player Michael Hand is the one moving up the national lists.

Hand has nine goals this season for the Terriers, who are off to a 6-2-1 start. In the latest NCAA Division III statistics, Hand is tied for 13th in goals per game and 20th in points per game.

“And keep in mind, that’s with him being injured, too,” Thomas coach Chris Parsons said.

Hand strained his groin early in the season and aggravated the injury in Saturday’s 0-0 tie with New England College. He missed Sunday’s 4-1 victory over Colby-Sawyer, and will also sit out tonight’s game against Colby.

Thomas will have a bit of a skeleton roster for tonight’s game. Paul Rechichi and Gunnar Shelton are also sidelined with injuries, and a few more players will sit after getting yellow cards in the Colby-Sawyer game.

Otherwise, things are looking positively rosy for the Terriers. They’re 3-0-1 in the North Atlantic Conference, and are undefeated on their new turf field. Parsons said the field is great for his team’s indirect passing style.

“We have a really strong group of returning student-athletes from last year,” Parsons said. “That, combined with a very competitive recruiting class, and also our new field, everything is coming together as a program.”

Goalkeeper Mikkail Crockwell, who played in two FIFA World Cup qualifiers last year for his native Bermuda, has an .885 save percentage, and has allowed six goals in nine games. Maranacook graduate Dakota Duplissie has four goals and five assists.

Thomas has the Vermont trip this weekend, with games against Green Mountain and Castleton. Parsons said the key is getting Hand, Rechichi, and Shelton back and healthy.

“All three of those players play key roles in our success,” Parsons said. “If we don’t have them back this weekend, it’s going to be key for our younger group to step up and provide some leadership, and really get us over the hump.”

* * *

When comparing the Colby field hockey from this season to to last fall’s team, the Mules’ overall record is probably a better barometer than their conference record.

Colby is 0-4-0 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference, but 4-0-0 outside the league. Still, the Mules are playing pretty well in the conference. Three of the losses were by one goal, including the games against Tufts and Trinity. Both schools are ranked in the top 20 in the country in Division III.

“Honestly, I feel great about our performance,” Colby coach Tina Cormier said. “We’re so much better than last year. The team has a lot more confidence. The younger kids who joined our team added a lot more depth to our program.”

Colby finished 4-10-0 last year, and the most striking difference is on offense. In 14 games last fall, the Mules scored a total of 19 goals. So far this year, they have 26 goals in eight games.

“The kids last year we’re like, ‘We played well. If we could only score,’ ” Cormier said.

Cormier would like to see the Mules improve in preventing opposing teams from getting penalty corners. Colby’s opponents have 83 corners this year, compared to 43 for the Mules.

“We’re actually pretty good at stopping them,” Cormier said. “But we’re giving teams a lot of opportunities, and that gives them momentum.”

Colby’s leading scorer is freshman Megan Fortier, a forward/midfielder who had five goals and six assists. Fortier was an all-state selection at Falmouth High School last fall, and came to Colby as a walk-on. Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty raved about Fortier during the senior all-star game.

“When I got an opportunity to see her play this summer, I knew right away she’d find a nice spot on our team,” Cormier said. “She’s fearless. She adds so much fight and speed and aggressiveness and even skill. She’s absolutely been doing phenomenal.”

Erin Maguire and Ellie Donohue each have four goals, and Caitlin Murray has scored three. In all, nine different players have scored for the Mules.

* * *

In the NAC preseason coaches poll, the University of Maine at Farmington women’s soccer team was picked fourth. Thus far, the Beavers are 3-0-1 in the conference and 6-3-1 overall, right with the three teams picked ahead of them.

“We’re really just clicking as a team,” UMF coach Molly Wilkie said. “We’ve learned each other’s tendencies well. We’re all united in making it as far in the playoffs as we can go.”

UMF’s defense has posted three consecutive shutouts, including a 0-0 tie against a Colby-Sawyer team that is also unbeaten in the conference.

“We’ve done a lot of fundamental defensive work, even though as a college team, they’re more advanced players,” Wilkie said. “We’ve kind of gone back to basics.”

Goalkeeper Beth Lebel has been solid, along with a back line of Renee Brown, Logan Faulkingham, Lauren Perkins, and Lawrence graduate Sara Quimby.

“Logan and Lauren really have more of a hard-nosed approach,” Wilkie said. “They’ll go all out. Renee and Sara are a bit more finesse players. They’re really good distributors. That combination of the brawn and the technical aspect has been a really good thing. They’re not just playing defense. They’re starting our offense.”

Alida Peake (eight goals) and Waterville graduate Kayla Tuttle (seven) are UMF’s leading scorers. Peake and Faulkingham are two of the standouts in a memorable senior class.

“I have six seniors,” Wilkie said. “The leadership from all of them has been really incredible. They’ve brought our team to where it is now.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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