WATERVILLE — It hasn’t been the easiest season for any high school sports team. At Maranacook Community High School, the fall season that started late for everybody started even later, sputtering like a rusty Pinto in dire need of a tune-up.

“We got a couple (COVID-19) cases and had to shut down. And a couple of (games) got rained out. Gotta love Maine for the weather,” said Abbie Jacques, a senior on Maranacook’s field hockey team. “It’s difficult for sure. I was expecting a full season. It’s very frustrating to only get in a couple games.”

Thursday afternoon’s 2-1 victory at Waterville was just the third game of the season for the Black Bears, who also had one scrimmage. It was a game between two young teams looking to gain as much experience as possible before this shortened season comes to an end in a couple weeks.

“How is it going? Better than expected, honestly. We haven’t had that many games,” Maranacook coach Ashley Work said.

Maranacook’s was paused for a week and a half in late September when a couple cases of COVID-19 were reported in the school district. Now that the Black Bears are getting into a rhythm of playing, Work likes the progress she’s seeing.

“Our execution, getting things done, is getting significantly better. It’s improved since last year. We’re able to control the ball a lot easier,” Work said  “It’s a relatively young team. I have a lot of sophomores, a few freshmen, and I’ve only got a handful of upperclassmen.”

That execution was seen when Maranacook scored what became the game-winning goal on a penalty corner with no time left in the third quarter. Katie Sechirst took a pass from Eliza Pattershall and found the cage, breaking a 1-1 tie.

“We’ve been working on cherry picking, and it came through,” Work said.

Maranacook’s, right, plays the ball as Waterville’s Olivia Hanley, left, reacts during field hockey action Thursday at Waterville Senior High School. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Jacques said she’s seen her team’s stick skills improve. More importantly, the Black Bears found developed team chemistry.

“At first we were arguing a little bit. We weren’t getting along. Now we’re just really close. We can work together,” said Jacques, who gave the Black Bears a 1-0 lead with a goal with 8:48 left in the first quarter. “We’re there to lift each other up when we’re down. We’re just really positive on each other, and I’m really proud of my team for that.”

Like Maranacook, Waterville is young. The Purple Panthers also were hit by injuries which left the team without any depth. When Raylee Gilbert left the game with an injury with 7:16 to play, Waterville was forced to finish the game with 10 players.

“We have a very young team, very new to playing field hockey. We have six who, this is barely their second year playing,” Waterville coach Caitlin Poulin said.

Gilbert’s goal, a blast from the center of the circle on a penalty corner with 4:38 to play in the third quarter, tied the game at 1-1 and was an example of the Panthers ability to put what they’ve been taught by their coaches into practice, Poulin said.

“They’re very coachable. Every time we tell them something, we say what to change, and they work so much harder to change that and be better,” Poulin said. “We’re really working on passing the ball and possessing it, which we saw a huge change through the third and fourth quarters, instead of just hitting it and hoping someone else runs on to it.”

Jacques is keeping her goals for the remainder of the season simple.

“Honestly, I just want to have fun. Yes, it’s nice to win, but the outcome doesn’t really matter if we’re sticking together and working as a team,” Jacques said.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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