AUGUSTA — As the field hockey playoffs roll into quarterfinal action, coaches across central Maine have a message to their respective clubs: Most of the fields are wide open.

It’s particularly true in Class B North, which is loaded with an abundance of legitimate contenders for the crown.

“You just never know. There are very few weak teams in our division,” said Gardiner coach Sharon Gallant, whose Tigers (10-4-0) are the reigning state champs. “It’s wide open.”

Gardiner finished sixth in B North and will play at No. 3 Old Town.

No. 4 Maine Central Institute (11-3-0) will play No. 5 Lawrence in one of the more intriguing quarterfinal round games.

“We’ve always known B North is tough,” MCI coach Nancy Hughes said.

Skowhegan’s Bhreagh Kennedy, left, and Messalonskee’s Olivia Saucier battle for the ball during a Class A North game earlier this season in Skowhegan. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson

Unblemished Skowhegan (14-0-0) enters A North as the prohibitive favorite yet again. It’s chasing state title No. 19 and eighth in the last 10 seasons. Skowhegan, which lost to Biddeford in the Class A state game last season, will host the Lewiston-Bangor winner on Tuesday.

“The whole state is so much more competitive than what it was five years ago,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “This is going to be a great tournament.”

Doughty added that Skowhegan will once again try to approach the playoffs with a sharpened focus.

“We need to perfect what we do, do it well and prepare for our opponent,” she said. “We don’t spend a lot of time looking back or looking forward. We are very focused on what we do.”

Mt. Blue (11-3-0) earned the second seed and will host No. 7 Brunswick (7-7) in a quarterfinal Wednesday. No. 3 Cony (10-4-0), which is riding a five-game winning streak, including victories over Mt. Blue and Gardiner, will host Oxford Hills (9-4-1). Messalonskee (9-5-0) finished fifth and will play at Mt. Ararat (10-4-0) in a quarterfinal game Wednesday at 3 p.m.

In B North, Winslow (12-2-0) earned the top seed, but it enters the playoffs coming off a tough 3-2 loss to No. 2 Belfast (11-3-0).

“I think Winslow is still the team to beat,” Gallant said. “I think they are more solid all the way around. But they’ve been beaten and they are beatable. You just never know.”

The Black Raiders will host No. 8 John Bapst on Tuesday at 3 p.m. Belfast, meanwhile, will host No. 7 Nokomis.

“You look at B North and those fifth and sixth teams are just really, really good,” Hughes said. “It’s just the Heal points didn’t give them enough to get them to host.”

The Huskies have won five consecutive games, out-scoring the opposition 34-1 in that stretch.

“We knew we had to come on strong late if we wanted to host,” Hughes said.

In Class C South, defending state champ Winthrop/Monmouth (13-1) is the top seed, followed by Oak Hill (9-5-0).

Spruce Mountain’s Avri Armandi, left, battles Winthrop’s Lindsay Letourneau for the ball during the first half of a game earlier this season in Winthrop. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover Buy this Photo

The Raiders, who edged the Ramblers, 3-0, earlier this season, will host No. 7 Lisbon (3-11-0). Winthrop/Monmouth will host No. 8 Hall-Dale (1-13-0).

“We’re trying not to let the girls overlook anyone,” Winthrop coach Jess Merrill said. “We know we have a target on our back from what we accomplished last year. We have all season. If we aren’t intense from the get-go, we will be playing from behind.”

In Class C North, Mount View (6-8-0) earned the eighth and final seed and will play at No. 1 Foxcroft Academy (14-0).

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