The nomination process for Miss Maine Field Hockey is as rigorous and thorough as for any high school athletic award in the state.

Coaches are asked to submit nominations by Sept. 4 and the candidates are whittled down through several rounds of scrutiny. The award is given annually to the top senior player in the state.

Members of the selection board watch players perform throughout the regular season and as the year winds down, evaluators are looking at season and career statistics as well as reports on character and academic achievement. Final votes by field hockey coaches will be taken Nov. 1 when three senior finalists (last year four were named) will be selected and one eventually honored at the Maine Field Hockey Association banquet in December.

The process is new to second-year Gardiner field hockey coach Sharon Gallant, who didn’t nominate anyone last year but nominated Nickyia Lovely for the award this season. Not only are character references and academic achievement given strong consideration, but, so too are other factors.

“You also have to meet six of nine criteria,” Gallant said.

They include: Participation in a USFHA futures, junior Olympic or U16 or U19 program; participation in a National Festival; being a high school All-American; an all-state selection in the previous three years; a three-year member of the varsity; a two-year all-conference player, MVP at a field hockey camp; or a future college payer.

The award was first presented in 1998 and central Maine has been well represented since. Three players from Skowhegan have won the award, two from Winslow, two from Gardiner and one from Messalonskee. Last year’s winner was Scarborough’s Maddy Dobecki. Coaches are free to nominate more than one player from their team and this year several area teams have more than one outstanding player.

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Two wins and a tie may not seem like progress but it’s been a quantum leap for a Waterville team that didn’t score a goal last year. This year the Purple Panthers scored 17 goals and were competitive in several losing efforts.

“Last year we were basically a JV team,” Waterville coach Aime Dubois “They worked very hard in the offseason.”

Waterville experienced three tough years when very few freshmen came out for the team, and it showed up down the road. This year, eight freshmen came out and three of them started for the varsity. The team is also losing just one senior. The Purple Panthers also fielded a junior varsity team this season.

“We’ve struggled but we’re working our way back,” Dubois said. “We’re such a soccer school.”

Dubois said this will be her last year coaching the team but believes the program is headed in the right direction.

“It’s been fun watching them grow,” she said.

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If Skowhegan seems like it’s the state’s hotbed of field hockey, that’s because it probably is. Not only has the high school team dominated the Class A tournament for the past 15 years, but there’s plenty going on at the lower levels, too.

The Skowhegan Recreation Department last Sunday hosted a tournament for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders. It will also host another Saturday for players in grades 6-8.

“It was wonderful,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said of Sunday’s tournament. “We had at least 15 teams and there were hundreds of spectators.”

Teams played 7 on 7 and there were four games going at once. This week’s tournament will feature eight teams and will be played with 11 players on a full field.

“It’s been a goal of we field hockey coaches to develop youth programs,” Doughty said. “Soccer’s been doing it for years and they’re way ahead of us. Today, kids want organized things to do and play in.”

Doughty said the goal is to make it fun and keep kids interested in the sport. She also said she can spot a ringer when she sees one.

“The kids that are natural athletes you can tell when they’re young,” she said.

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The regular season ends this week with preliminary round tournament games scheduled for Saturday and quarterfinal games for Tuesday. The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference games will be played Thursday at Thomas College with a rain date set for Friday. The second ranked Class A team (via Heal points) will play the No. 2 Class B team at 5 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., the top team in A meets the top team in B. Messalonskee has sewn up the top spot in class A with Skowhegan second while Gardiner and Winslow are the two Class B participants.

There is no actual champion but it does give teams a tuneup for the tournament.

“It gives us a little time for work on turf,” Gallant said.

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Maine Central Institute (10-4) and Mount View (9-5) met in the season finale Tuesday with second place in Class C North on the line, an honor that ultimately went to the Huskies after their 4-3 victory. As they did last year, both teams finished high in the standings. Mount View coach Gloria Hewett wasn’t so sure that would be the case this year, especially with one of her key players, senior back Jordan King, out possibly for the season with a knee injury.

King missed the first few games of the season but returned ahead of schedule and has been a big boost for a team without a lot of depth.

“You just never know how things will turn out,” Hewett said.

Both MCI and Mount View have benefited from playing a Class B schedule in the tough KVAC. That helps, Hewett said, come tournament time, although the key is maintaining momentum.

“You can’t let down just because it’s near the end,” Hewett. “You have to play harder.”


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