WATERVILLE — Put the state’s best recently graduated high school field hockey players on turf and an exciting fast-paced game is virtually guaranteed.

That was the case Saturday at Thomas College when North squared off against South at the McNally Senior All-Star game.

The outcome wasn’t decided until the North’s Riley Field cleared the ball following a South penalty corner executed after time had expired. That preserved a 3-2 win for the North in which Field, a Messalonskee High School grad, was named her squad’s most valuable player. Oak Hill’s Kylee Veilleux scored both goals for the South and was named that team’s MVP.

Field and former Messalonskee teammate Emily Hogan each scored early in the second half to give the North a 3-1 lead. Gardiner’s Nickyia Lovely scored the other North goal assisted by Hogan.

“It’s really fun,” said Riley, who will play at the University of Maine this fall. “It’s going to make me miss high school. It’s just such good competition and I think in this little state of Maine we forget how amazing the players are here and some of the coaches.”

Field hockey has come a long way since the all-star game began 23 years ago.


“When we started we might have had 50 people here,” said former Gardiner coach Moe McNally in who’s honor the game was named. “When we started we had maybe three of our seniors playing in college. Now a majority of these kids are playing somewhere. They’re not only looking at D-1, there’s very competitive D-2 and D-3 schools they’re playing on and playing well.”

The senior game was the highlight of festivities at Thomas which drew hundreds of players and fans and played in conjunction with the Maine Field Hockey Association’s annual festival. Four games were played at once on adjoining turf fields and continued throughout the day with each team guaranteed four games. Proceeds from the games go to Camp Sunshine in Casco, which hosts children with critical illnesses and their families each summer.

“The whole game has actually really changed,” said Oak Hill’s Betsy Gilbert, one of the coaches for the South squad. “The girls are playing more, they’re playing off-season. They’re improving so much. To take the game from being on grass to being on turf . . . it’s just a totally different game now.”

Coaches whose teams played in one of three state championship games coached the two squads. Joining Gilbert on the South squad were Thornton Academy’s Lori Smith and York’s Beth Marois. Paula Doughty from Class A champion Skowhegan, Mary Beth Bourgoin from Class B runner-up Winslow and Nancy Hughes of Class C champion Maine Central Institute coached the North team.

The teams did not have a chance to practice together but acclimated as the game progressed.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Hogan, who will report to preseason practice at Division I American University next month in Washington, D.C. “We got to play with some girls we usually go head-to-head with which was a great time. I really think it showcased the North and the South individual and team skills. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been playing with someone if you get on a field with a random bunch of girls and play like both teams did today.”


Lovely showed why she became Gardiner’s all-time leading scorer last season when she one-timed a hard shot into the back of the cage after taking a pass from Hogan just over 12 minutes into the game.

Veilleux, who set single season and career scoring records at Oak Hill, answered just over nine minutes later.

“The first one we were all just kind of hitting at it,” said Veilleux, who will play at Southern New Hampshire University this fall. “It was just a lucky shot I guess.”

Veilleux tied the game with 4:40 left when she tipped in a pass from Thornton’s Grace Pickering, who was named Miss Maine Field Hockey for 2015. The game picked up from there with Skowhegan goalie Leah Kruse coming far out of her cage to stop a potential goal. Kruse, who will play at Bentley University this fall, gambled again when Thornton’s Libby Pomerleau broke in on her alone with two minutes left to play. Kruse missed the ball but fortunately for her, Pomerleau’s shot slipped inches wide of the goal.

“I think in the first half it was a little hard,” Field said. “Honestly I think when we started having fun with it that’s really when we started picking up.”

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