FAIRFIELD — Shawna Robinson knew during the summer that her Lawrence field hockey team could be special this season. Her players knew it as well.

And so far this fall, the Bulldogs have been showing it. Lawrence defeated Maine Central Institute 5-1 Tuesday afternoon, and with the win improved to 6-0 for the season. The Bulldogs have now scored 28 goals over the six games, and allowed only three. They’re deep, they’re experienced, and they’re skilled.

“We’re pretty deep, it’s not just one person you have to worry about really, it’s a collective group with us,” Robinson said. “They like to run, they’re fast, they’re just fun to coach.”

Hope Bouchard, one of the Bulldogs’ 14 juniors, scored twice against the Huskies (4-1), while Lawrence also got goals from senior Holly Bolduc, junior MaKenzie Nadeau and freshman Maddie Niles. Niles added three assists, while Bouchard and Sage Brown also had helpers.

Asked what the key for the team has been, Robinson didn’t hesitate.

“Their chemistry. They like each other,” she said. “These kids just have it. We don’t even have to work at it, they have it.”

Bolduc, one of the team’s seniors, agreed.

“I think since we all get along well, it definitely helps us communicate and get the ball up the field,” she said.

With success, however, comes hype and expectations, and the Bulldogs have started to notice it.

Maine Central Institute’s Aliria Ward (2) and Lawrencel’s Hope Bouchard (4) battle for the ball in the second half of field hockey action Tuesday in Fairfield. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I knew we were going to have a good season, and we’ve been expected to go pretty far,” Bouchard said. “We’ve heard it from all around, so we kind of had that chip on our shoulders.”

Bouchard said playing up to those expectations can be a challenge.

“It definitely makes the games more nerve-wracking, because people are expecting you to win,” she said. “If you have a bad play or you let one slip in, it’s really nerve-wracking and kind of frustrating to have that stress on your shoulders.”

At the same time, the Bulldogs have their own expectations. The word “championship” can be taboo for coaches who are petrified of their teams getting overconfident, but at Lawrence, that’s the goal, and the players share that focus with each other.

“We definitely focus on our game-by-game,” Bolduc said, “but in the back of our heads, we have that goal that we want to make it really far, and I think there’s a pretty good chance that we can.”

“It’s a lot of pressure, and I don’t like to put that pressure on the kids, but they’re kind of kids that react to pressure well,” Robinson said. “We just try to keep it basic for them. We know, if we don’t get there, it’s our own doing.”

Lawrence had its skills on display against the Huskies, who came into the game undefeated and having outscored their four opponents 34-1. The Bulldogs struck on three corners, with Nadeau tipping in a Niles shot in the first quarter, Brown passing the ball over to Bouchard who rattled a shot home in the third, and Bouchard scoring again on a long shot off a feed from Niles to make it 3-0 with 11:48 to go in the fourth. Bolduc and Niles rounded out the scoring.

“They’re good, and we know that,” Robinson said. “We always seem to find a different gear for teams like that, but we have to find it for everybody.”

As effective as Lawrence’s offense was, its defense was just as impressive. With Liz Crommett, Lexi Moran, Taylor Leclerc and goalie Emma Poulin leading the way, the Bulldogs held MCI to only one corner until the last five minutes of the game.

“They know a good day of field hockey is when the ball doesn’t even come in our defensive circle,” Robinson said. “Those are the days we like. We are offensive-heavy, but in a crunch, I have all the faith in the world in our defense.”

MCI got on the board when Trinity Leavitt scored off a feed from Hannah Robinson with 3:25 to go.

“They stepped to the ball better than we did today, and they capitalized on getting the ball below the 25,” MCI coach Nancy Hughes said. “We had a tough time moving the ball into our offensive circle, that made a big difference today.”

Hughes said being tested against a top team in Class B would only help the Huskies going forward.

“We knew Lawrence was going to be a very tough team to play, and we were looking forward to playing them because our strength of schedule is not what it’s been,” she said. “I’m not disheartened or discouraged. We have to play as many of these types of games as we can, because that’s the competition I want to play. … I’d play them again tomorrow.”

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