The way Winslow field hockey coach Mary Beth Bourgoin remembers it, Delaney Wood was in about third or fourth grade when she decided she wanted to be a goalie.

“She had pretty good instincts very, very young,” Bourgoin said. “Good reflexes, fast for a young person, and just ate it up.”

“It was just something completely different,” Wood said. “It made me work harder, and it made me see the game from a different point of view, which was really intriguing. The first game that I ever stepped in goal, I was like, ‘I’m gonna stick with it.'”

Everyone involved with the Winslow field hockey program is glad that Wood, indeed, stuck with it. She has developed into one of the best high school goalies in the state, and as a junior this season, she led the Black Raiders to a 17-0-1 record and the Class C state championship.

That makes Wood the choice as the Morning Sentinel Field Hockey Player of the Year. Also considered were Mount View’s Kersey Boulay and Skowhegan’s Rylie Blanchet.

People in many sports say you have to be a little weird to want to be a goalie, and Wood has never delighted in being normal.

“Delaney, the one thing that’s great about her, is she definitely goes to the beat of her own drummer,” Bourgoin said. “She is not a follower. She’s a natural leader in that position, and she’s going to do what she is interested in doing. She’s funny. She’s quirky. She always has been. She’s comfortable in her own skin. Delaney’s comfortable with who Delaney is, and that’s a good thing.”

Wood was a standout goalie as a sophomore, a season that ended with Winslow losing 1-0 to eventual state champion Foxcroft in the Eastern C final. Coming in to this fall, Bourgoin trusted Wood to set up Winslow’s defensive formations.

“I looked a lot to her, especially this year when the season started,” Bourgoin said. “She had gone to national futures tournament. She did a lot of training at camp. She had been all over the place. So I told her at the beginning of the season, ‘I am fine with you deciding how you want this circle set up defensively, particularly on corners.’ The girls also had input, but they really listened to what is best for Delaney in those situations.”

Winslow gave up only 11 goals in 18 games this season. The Black Raiders seemed to be playing a lot of overtime games, and Wood helped make sure they never walked away with a loss. When she did give up a goal, she had an uncommon ability to re-focus.

“When goalies are younger, they don’t like to get scored upon,” Bourgoin said. “They think it’s their fault. But Delaney has become very comfortable. She understands that, ‘This is a team sport, and I need my teammates in front of me to help me.’ You have to have a pretty strong mindset to be a goalie, and not let your emotions get the best of you. She really, really, really has that piece under control.”

“It’s definitely always tough to let a goal in,” Wood said. “But I’ve let in millions of goals between practice and games. You just have to let it roll off your back.”

The way Wood played in goal, one goal was usually enough for a win, and two goals was almost always enough. She would make breath-taking saves, staying (outwardly, at least) calm the whole time. She was part of the backbone of a team that was undeniably on a mission.

“I love that we were all family, and that we were all so cohesive,” Wood said. “In practice, everyone challenged everyone else. We just wanted it this season, even more than the previous season.”

Wood allowed only two goals in four playoff games, one of which turned out to be a meaningless goal in a 3-1 victory over Lisbon in the state final. Wood didn’t see many shots in that game, but she did see her teammates doing what they set out to do.

“We just had a lot of skills, and our passes were on,” Wood said. “To just stand there and watch it all unfold, it was really mesmerizing.”

While Wood has worked year-round at being a goalie and intends to play field hockey in college, she’s also a guard on the basketball team at Winslow.

“As a coach, I’m glad she takes a break and she plays basketball,” Bourgoin said. “I think it works different muscles for her. She can take her goalie knowledge, and she can apply it on the basketball court, and vice versa. So I’m glad that she and my other players do other sports. I think it’s good for them.”

Still, field hockey is in Wood’s heart, and the coming months should be interesting for her as she decides where to extend her career.

“I definitely want to set my bar as high as possible,” Wood said. “I love basketball and everything, but field hockey’s my No. 1, and I really, really want to play D-I.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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