WATERVILLE — Often times, a star player’s best attributes are immeasurable.

Delaney Wood, a senior goalkeeper for the Winslow High School field hockey team and Miss Maine Field Hockey finalist, has had more than her fair share of saves and shutouts in her three seasons as a starter for the Black Raiders. It is her reaction to when the ball does happen to get past her that separates Wood from the rest, according to coach Mary Beth Bougoin.

“She has always been mentally tough, but when you would come from junior high up to high school or a U-14 to a U-16, it’s a totally different ball game and you really develop that,” Bougoin said. “You have to get over the fact that yup, you’re going to get scored on and there are going to be mistakes made in front of you, but not everything relies on the goalie.

“Your first line of defense is your forward line, and your first line of offense is your goalie, and she really understands that and has become very mentally tough.”

One way or another, Wood will play her final game for Winslow today at 2 p.m. at the University of Maine when the Black Raiders take on York in the Class B state championship. It is a journey for her, though, that began a number of years ago thanks to a chance occurrence.

“It’s actually a funny story. In fifth grade, we would play in the spring league at Sukee and we had a goalie from Vassalboro, and one day she didn’t come, she was busy or something,” Wood said. “I just hopped in and was like, ‘I’ll try it out.’ I’ve always been that kind of adventurous, why not kind of person, and so I just hopped in there and never ended up taking the pads off.”

The Black Raiders are certainly grateful that Wood kept wearing the pads. Winslow played a Class B schedule last season on its way to winning the Class C title, which certainly helped in preparing to make the jump up a class this fall. Wood has played her part too, though, as Winslow had to replace three of its back four defenders heading into the season.

“She’s been blessed with the fact that she’s got great athletes back there with her, but she’s really helped kids transition into different positions and learn them and brought them along,” Bourgoin said. “It’s been a godsend for me.”

One of those players has been sweeper Susan Grant. As a sophomore Grant sat behind — and studied — Brooke Haskell and has stepped in this fall as a starter seamlessly.

“We lost three key players, but Susan totally stepped it up. Susan has been literally my right hand,” Wood said. “She’s saved me so many times and she’s just blossomed this year.”

Wood, Grant and Ciera Poulin — along with center-midfielder Miranda Gagne — have stabilized the back end for the Black Raiders during their playoff run, as communication amongst the group has helped Winslow limit its opponents to less than one goal per game in the postseason.

“When we’re not talking, we’re not jelling, and that’s when mistakes happen and that’s when goals are made,” Grant said. “When there’s talking, there’s a lot of communicating and moving around, and that’s when we can get the ball out of the circle and we can get it up.

“Delaney has been helping me a lot, telling me where to be position wise. She’s really led me in that position and all the other backs. We’re just really working together and we’re trying to be a united defense. ”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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