WATERVILLE — Plenty of athletes have come out of central Maine and gone on to play sports at the Division I level, but the area is not exactly a hotbed for players of that caliber, either.

One look at the Messalonskee High School girls lacrosse team might make one think otherwise, though.

Last Tuesday, Haley Lowell, a sophomore, verbally committed to play field hockey at Boston University. She was the fourth player on the team to give either a verbal or written commitment to play D-I field hockey, joining two players — junior Lydia Dexter and senior Riley Field — bound for the University of Maine and senior Emily Hogan, who will play at American University.

According to Eagles girls lacrosse head coach Ashley Pullen, those four will not likely be the last as sophomores Ally Turner and Lauren Pickett have the potential to play D-I lacrosse, while freshman Autumn Littlefield has potential to field hockey at the D-1 level.

“I’m very blessed to have good athletes and I’ll take good athletes any day because you can teach the skills,” Pullen said after her team’s 15-2 drubbing of Mt. Ararat on Wednesday afternoon at Thomas College’s Smith Field. “It’s a coach’s dream. Like I said, really having the athleticism is the biggest part because you can’t teach speed, you can’t teach power, you can’t teach strength.

“You can train for it but we have such a short season that really trying to train for strength while you’re in season you’re not going to get the benefit. So many of them are training in the weight room year-round that I’m very fortunate to reap the benefits of that in our season.”

Pullen is not the only one enjoying the wealth of talent the Eagles possess, as Dexter noted that she has relished playing with a group of athletes who possess a similar mindset to her own.

“Every practice is very intense and very competitive,” Dexter said. “We all have that mentality and we all want to play whatever sport it is at the next level, and I think just to have that ambition you have a different mentality as an athlete. It’s a lot of fun playing on a team with these athletes.”

It has not been all fun, though. Dexter committed to Maine a few months ago, but described the process as a “grind” between all the added stress at each tournament, game and practice. Lowell echoed some similar sentiments.

“It’s really stressful, the whole process, and I committed early just because I know that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to BU if I didn’t commit so early — they might have picked other players already,” Lowell said. “That’s just how it’s working these days, they’re going early.”

As for this lacrosse season, many of Messalonskee’s games have played out similarly to Wednesday’s 13-goal win over Mt. Ararat. Dexter had four goals, Turner three goals and three assists and Pickett two goals and two assists in a game in which Messalonskee (7-1) was not challenged.

Of the team’s seven wins, six have come by double digits but — as it found out Saturday — it is not invincible. The Eagles were down a handful of starters due to other obligations and were rolled by Kennebunk 15-2.

“It makes you realize you still have something to work for,” Lowell said, “and you can still get better no matter what.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley


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