It hasn’t been easy for Messalonskee senior Ally Corbett to sit and watch her teammates play this season. The all-state midfielder is still recovering from a broken right foot sustained several weeks ago while working a summer field hockey camp at Thomas College. She was on crutches for nearly a month and still feels discomfort when running on it.

“I’m just trying to ease back into things,” Corbett said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been out of field hockey this long.”

Corbett participates in some of the pregame drills and part of the practices. Messalonskee coach Katie McLaughlin said Corbett will play when she participates in an entire practice. That could come as early as this week when the Eagles host Edward Little.

“I’ll play this week but I’m not sure how much time I’ll get,” Corbett said.

After going unbeaten in the regular season a year ago, the Eagles are off to rocky start with losses to Skowhegan and Mt. Blue. As one of the team leaders, Corbett has tried to help her teammates from the bench.

“I can see everything from a coach’s perspective,” she said, adding McLaughlin has given her plenty of leeway. “She’s a great coach who has tried to make us step up as leaders. We need that team dynamic.”

Messalonskee will also be without sophomore midfielder Autumn Littlefield, who is expected to take a few days off to help heal a recurring injury. Not only is Corbett a non-stop defender, but she’s also an excellent passer who gets the offense going. And she believes she improved in the offseason prior to her injury.

“I feel like this year I’ve been better at seeing the field and communication,” she said. “I’m making better passes.”

Corbett usually plays center back for the Maine Majestix, a successful club team under the direction of her aunt, Amy Bernatchez. She drew the attention of several college coaches at one of the many showcases the team attends and eventually decided to accept a full-tuition scholarship from Division I St. Joseph’s University of Philadelphia.

“I wanted a place where I could contribute,” Corbett said. “They gave me a great deal.”

• • •

Gardiner is 5-0 heading into a showdown against Maine Central Institute on Thursday in Pittsfield. The Tigers have 2-1 wins over Nokomis and Mount View but have otherwise been untested. Coach Sharon Gallant expects a test against the Huskies, though, who return several players from last year’s Class C state championship team.

“That will let us know where we’re at,” Gallant said.

The Tigers return a number of good players from last year’s Class B playoff team as well. And so far they’ve played up to expectations. Hailee Lovely has scored as expected, Skye Lavoie is the team’s all-purpose player and Mikayala Bourassa has played well at center back. But there have been some pleasant surprises, too.

Two of the smaller players on the team are freshman Haley Brann and senior Callie Michaud, and both have come up big.

“She’s all over the ball all the time,” Gallant said of Brann. “I absolutely love her.”

Michaud plays left back and is one of the team’s headier players.

“She’s very tenacious, has great stick skills and never gives up,” Gallant said.

Gallant calls Michaud a student of the game along with captain and senior midfielder Sarah Morgan.

• • •

It was with anticipation rather than dread that Mt. Blue field hockey coach Jody Harmon viewed the first few games of this season’s schedule. Among them were showdowns against Messalonskee and Skowhegan, the two superpowers in Class A North as well as Cony, just a step or two behind.

A few years back, Harmon’s team would have taken a beating. Instead, her Cougars tied Cony then beat Messalonskee and defending state champ Skowhegan in the same week.

“I knew the schedule going in,” Harmon said. “We’ve been talking about it for some time.”

Harmon and her staff took a different approach to the upcoming season during the summer and it has paid off so far.

“We worked less on games and more on skills,” she said. “They all have grown so much.”

Harmon became head coach five years ago and figured it would take this long for her team to reach the upper plateau of the conference. The Cougars’ six experienced seniors and another half dozen juniors are particularly strong through the middle of the field.

Their dominance at midfield and the presence of junior scorer Hannah Minns led them to a fairly comfortable 4-2 win against Messalonskee in Farmington last Tuesday. They had a tougher time at Skowhegan on Thursday but managed to pull out a 1-0 victory.

“It was an intense fight,” Harmon said. “The second was more of us playing defense. You could see our legs were tired from the Messalonskee game.”

Junior goalie Erika McArthur, who started last season, kept her team in the game with 16 saves, with most of those coming in the second half.

In their move to the top of the standings the Cougars have emulated the success at Messalonskee and Skowhegan.

“The big thing is they have is so many players that play year round,” Harmon said. “Big feeder programs and offering more resources.”


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