After graduating eight seniors and opening the season with two straight losses, Cony field hockey coach Holly Daigle could have been staring at a long season.

“We knew we were going to have younger kids who were going to have to step up,” Daigle said. “That’s definitely a tough way to start the season but it opened our eyes.”

The Rams and Daigle responded by reeling off 10 straight wins before falling 1-0 to rival Gardiner, the eventual Class B state champion. They finished the regular season at 10-3-1 and won their quarterfinal game against Oxford Hills in the Class A North tournament.

For her efforts, Daigle has been selected Kennebec Journal Field Hockey Coach of the Year.

The Rams returned six players from last season’s 7-6-1 team and all were strong contributors, but there were places to shore up throughout the lineup.

“We tried girls in different positions but also different formations,” Daigle said. “We had to try a lot of new things until we found some things that worked.”

Daigle played field hockey and basketball at Cony and has leaned on her former basketball coach and current athletic director Paul Vachon for advice when needed.

“I love having Paul as my athletic director,” she said.

But nine years into her head coaching stint, Daigle has formed strong coaching opinions of her own.

“It’s all about maintaining balance,” she said. “They’re field hockey players but they’re also students, have jobs and have a family.”

Like many coaches, Daigle has learned to maintain balance in her own life. In addition to teaching second grade, she has two children, Addie, 7, and Miles, 5.

“They were both born in October at the end of my field hockey season,” she said.

The Rams will graduate a couple of valuable players this year but will return enough talent to challenge the top teams next season.

“We have a core group of players who are determined,” Daigle said. “We really want to get over that hump of coming close.”

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