As a freshman, Arika Brochu stood out as a forward on the Cony field hockey team. As a sophomore, she played forward and some midfield. This year, as a junior, Brochu played right midfielder, center midfielder and right forward.

“Because she’s so versatile,” Cony coach Holly Daigle said, “depending on who we were missing, Arika’s one of those girls you can put her anywhere and she’d do a good job.”

Brochu missed two weeks with a concussion, but returned to spark the Rams and earn all-state honors. For her outstanding season, Brochu is the choice as the Kennebec Journal Field Hockey Player of the Year. Gardiner back Camden Cone was also considered.

“My kids had a lot of respect for (Arika) as a player,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “When we pick all-stars, I sit down with my kids and ask them, and she was one of their first choices.”

Cony won only three games in 2012, and Brochu wasn’t sure she would return to the team. She said she decided to play two days before the start of preseason.

“At the time, I thought my love for the sport kind of went downhill,” Brochu said.

The Rams finished 7-7-1 this fall, and Brochu said the camaraderie on the team was “much, much better” this year.

“I’m glad I did what I did,” she said.

Brochu sat out for two weeks after taking a ball to the head during a practice. She returned in time for the annual Drive Out Cancer game with Gardiner and played the rest of the year. She was a playmaker on offense and often had the responsibility of marking one of the opponent’s top offensive players.

“She’s a super athlete,” Daigle said, “and because she’s an athlete, she sees the field well and makes good decisions. She knows when to shoot the ball and when to pass to a teammate.”

Brochu would also play all 60 minutes if the game was close, “and she would go hard for 60 minutes,” Daigle said.

For the season, Brochu finished with eight goals and two assists. The latter number is misleading, because Brochu could, for instance, carry the ball 30 or 40 yards down the right side and create a penalty corner, but not receive any credit in the statistics for that play.

“She’s a team player,” Daigle said. “But that being said, she proved that she could get the job done. When we needed to put the ball in the cage, she could do that.”

That was most evident against Lawrence in the final game of the regular season. Brochu scored two goals as Cony upset the Bulldogs, 2-1, in Fairfield. Brochu later spoke about that game at the team’s end-of-the-season banquet, and said it was the best game the Rams played this fall.

“It’s kind of like we all pulled it together that game,” Brochu said.

By that point in the season, Daigle was on maternity leave and watching from the sidelines, and Cony’s coach was Al Brochu, Arika’s father and Cony’s assistant coach this year.

“He’s been my coach for years and years,” Arika said. “He coached my middle school field hockey teams, travel softball teams, from 8 to now — he’s still my coach. So yeah, I like to see him on the field.”

Brochu has already been named a captain for next year’s team, and it looks like her love for the sport is back.

“I’m definitely playing next year,” she said. “I’ve already started communicating with the incoming freshmen. I’m looking forward to playing with them in the summer.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243[email protected]Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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