Few if any teams enjoy the luxury of plugging players into a position and having them remain there the entire season. With 11 players in the lineup, field hockey is a game of trial and error.

Mt. Blue is a case in point. The Cougars got off to a slow start at 1-3 this season, albeit against some tough competition, before coach Jody Harmon decided to shuffle some of her players.

She moved sophomore Hannah Minns up to center forward and Gracie Foss from forward to left back. Jordyn Lawrence went from the forward line to sweeper while Leah St. Laurent and Rebecca Harmon were placed at midfield. The changes paid off, beginning with a 3-0 win against Cony, a team that beat the Cougars early in the season.

Mt. Blue played to a 1-1 tie against Oxford Hills and has since run off five straight shutouts going into Tuesday’s game against Mt. Ararat.

“We’re just bringing it all together,” coach Harmon said. “Sometimes it’s a chess match out there. Kids get locked into thinking they can just play offense or defense.”

All seven of Mt. Blue’s victories have been shutouts. Sophomore Erika McArthur, playing just her second year of field hockey and first on the varsity, is the team’s goalie.

“She’s playing great,” Harmon said.

• • •

Messalonskee’s toughest competition this season has come in practice. The Eagles are cruising along at 12-0 and have allowed just one goal this season, to Mt. Blue on Sept. 8. When the Eagles’ starting goalie decided not to return to the team, junior Hannah Pinney was thrust into the position.

Pinney has rarely been tested, thanks to a solid defense — Lydia Dexter, Autumn Littlefield, Katelyn Smith and Kirsten Pelletier — and a prolific offense. Pinney’s greatest tests have come against her own teammates.

“We make her a big focus during practice and our offense really works her hard,” coach Katie McLaughlin said.

Practice in general has been a vehicle to keep the Eagles sharp, considering many of their games have been blowouts.

“We really focus on working each other as hard as we can,” McLaughin said. “It’s as intense as you can imagine. Our mindset is looking to improve the little things.”

The Eagles finish the regular season with a home game against Cony and a showdown in the finale at rival Skowhegan.

• • •

First-year Nokomis coach Sabrina Vaillancourt and her Warriors got the signature win they were looking for Saturday when they knocked off visiting Winslow 3-2.

“It was our best win yet,” Vaillancourt said. “Every single one of (our players) knew how much this game meant.”

The win didn’t come easily. After building a 3-0 lead, Nokomis gave up two goals in the final five minutes and hung on for the victory.

“Winslow was bringing it to us,” Vaillancourt said. “We didn’t handle the pressure well. It was a learning point for my girls.”

Vaillancourt has been pleased with the play of her freshmen this season and two of them came through Saturday with Jaime Skinner scoring twice and Lexi Butler once. The Warriors are 7-5 and in the middle of the Class B North tournament standings.

Up next is a homecoming test Saturday against nearby Maine Central Institute, the second-ranked team in Class C North.

“They’re the next town over,” Vaillancourt said. “It’s kind of a big rivalry.”

• • •

Gardiner coach Sharon Gallant isn’t panicking after her Tigers lost for the first time this season in back-to-back games against Lawrence and Winslow. Both games were 1-0 and could have gone either way. But there has been a renewed focus on offense and conditioning.

“In both games we had opportunities, we just didn’t finish,” Gallant said. “I didn’t think our forwards played particularly well. We’ve been concentrating on that part of the game.”

The Tigers played both games without center back Mikayla Bourassa, who sustained a leg injury in an exhibition game against Cony. Gallant has moved junior Skye Lavoie to center back and is rotating a couple of players through Lavoie’s former defensive position.

The Tigers, who are currently in fifth position in the Class B North tournament standings, have a point-worthy game against Belfast on Thursday.

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