Skowhegan senior Haley Carter got a chance to participate in the team’s penalty corners this season and turned in a pretty respectable year with five goals and nine assists, including a the first goal in the Class A North final.

“It was really fun, scoring my first (playoff) goal,” Carter said. “I was really excited.”

Carter grows far more excited when she’s keeping the ball away from her own team’s goal, though. A starter at sweeper since she stepped onto the field as a freshman, Carter has made an art out of keeping the ball out of the Indians’ cage.

In fact, Carter has made an art of it. In four years she’s made a school record 69 defensive saves of potential goals for a team that rarely finds itself on its heels.

“She was amazing since day one,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said.

For her efforts, Carter has been selected Morning Sentinel Field Hockey Player of the Year.

Carter gave up basketball in the eighth grade to concentrate on field hockey, a sport Skowhegan has dominated for more than two decades, this year winning their 18th Class A state championship.

“I loved it,” Carter said. “Every time I was on the field I loved it. It’s one of the best sports and one of the best teams to be on.”

Doughty and her staff decided Carter would make a good sweeper because of desire and athleticism. That desire included an intense need to win through defense.

“Her stick work has improved immensely,” Doughty said. “She’s developed a lot of really fine offensive moves. She’s patient.”

Carter’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. She was courted by a few Division I colleges and eventually accepted a scholarship offer from Hofstra University, giving her both a chance to play big time field hockey and be near New York City where she’s hoping for employment opportunities after college.

Carter credits a lot of her improvement to veteran defensive coach Tammie Veinotte, especially when it comes details. With her improvements she’s taken more risks on the field, often carrying over midfield, well into the opponent’s end.

“I’ve come up as far as the 25 on the other side,” she said.

Carter is also a team captain, not only leading by example but vocally as well.

“I’ve always been a leader on the field,” she said. “I needed to be the loudest. I needed for us to win.”

Doughty has given Carter free reign when it comes to directing her teammates,

“I told those kids in the back, ‘whatever she tells you to do, do it,’ ” Doughty said. “She’s such a presence back there. She’s just fun to watch.”