Lydia Dexter was excited when she woke up Monday morning. The Messalonskee High School senior was eager to start practice for the upcoming field hockey season. Practices for 2016 meant Dexter could do more to forget the way the Eagles ended the 2015 season.

Undefeated and the top seed in the Class A North tournament, Messalonskee fell to No. 2 Skowhegan, 2-1, in the regional championship game last year.

“I’m been looking forward to it this whole time. I think about it every day,” Dexter said after Monday morning’s first practice of the season. “Everyone in the league looks like a threat. We lost a lot of seniors. We still have tons of talent. Skowhegan’s in the back of our mind, but we have to think about the whole league this year and work hard every single game.”

Around the state, Monday was the first day of practice for high school field hockey, football, soccer, cross country, volleyball and golf teams. Golf teams can open the season Aug. 26, while field hockey gets under way five days later. The first Messalonskee-Skowhegan game since the regional final last season is Sept. 2 in Skowhegan at 4 p.m.

Messalonskee field hockey coach Katie McLaughlin said the team discussed last season’s heartbreaking finish prior to Monday morning’s practice, and are ready to learn from it.

“We’ve decided it’s time to move forward. It’s a new season. How do we take such a setback like that? The girls played incredible that game,” McLaughlin said. “What is our frame of mind going to be? The girls, they’re ready and they’re very excited. They’re ready to move on.”

While the Messalonskee field hockey team looks to use the end of last season as motivation, so does the Winslow High School football team, although in a different way. Last year, the Black Raiders won their second consecutive Class C state championship. Winslow did it with a second straight undefeated season and enters the season with a 22-game win streak.

“We don’t really focus on (the streak),” Winslow senior linebacker Patrick Hopkins said. “We like to focus one game at a time. We have scrimmages, then the first game’s against Belfast (on Sept. 3). We have to make sure they’re not working harder than us.”

No matter the sport, the first few days of practice are about setting the tone for the upcoming season.

“We really set the foundation and fundamentals of what we’re going to build everything on. The first few days are fundamentals and skills and drills, and from there we make it more complicated with more elite skills,” McLaughlin said.

Dexter said it was great to see her teammates come to practice ready to go.

“I just like to see that everyone is putting in the most effort they can. You can tell when people put in offseason training. I think this year, more than ever, we look in shape. Everyone looks like they’re ready to compete,” Dexter said.

Many who played in summer field hockey leagues played on artificial turf fields. Coming back to the natural grass can lead to an adjustment period, McLaughlin said.

“It’s a hit or miss. A lot of people who played in the summer played on turf, so they show up here and it evens the playing field a lot. Everybody comes out a little rusty,” McLaughlin said.

No sport eases into the season like football. Teams aren’t allowed full contact until the fifth day of practice.

“I think a big part of it is just building team chemistry and learning how to work as a unit, because that’s what Raider football’s really about,” Hopkins said. “It feels like we haven’t missed a step. We’ve been working all summer. Now is the time to get pretty serious about it.”

During Winslow’s afternoon practice on Monday, head coach Mike Siviski supervised a blocking technique drill in which the players hit pads.

“Not too bad for the first day,” Siviski said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM