Gardiner celebrates after Savannah Brown, far right, scored a goal on Cony to put them up 4-3 and win the Drive Out Cancer field hockey game Tuesday in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

On Tuesday night at Hoch Field, the Cony and Gardiner field hockey teams showed its rivalry is far more than just playing for an old boot.

It’s something more.

Down 3-1 at halftime, the Tigers got three unanswered goals in the second half  from seniors Addison Carter, Dewey Clary and Savannah Brown to pull out a 4-3 victory. With the win, Gardiner claimed the prize of the rivalry, an old western-style boot that looks like it might have been plucked straight from John Travolta’s trailer from the 1980 movie “Urban Cowboy.” It was the first time the Tigers were able to lay claim to the boot since 2016.

“It was a crazy game, we were down at first, and it was a crazy comeback,” Clary said. “We just really had to pull it together…It’s a rivalry game, it’s the biggest game (of the regular season). And we were just like, ‘We want this boot. The boot is the biggest thing.’ We wanted it so bad.”

The Tigers improved to 3-0 this season — they finished 7-8 last year with a trip to the Class B North quarterfinals — and sit just behind Lawrence at the top of the conference standings. Strong teamwork and an athletic roster is making up for a lack of experience, Gardiner coach Sharon Gallant said.

“I don’t have a lot of veterans,” Gallant said. “My front line, three out of the four are basketball kids that I picked up last year. Savannah Brown, McKenna Johnson, Megan Gallagher, they are all kids that really are just coming now to play. Once they got that year under their belt, they’ve just been phenomenal. (Waterville transfer) Raylee Gilbert was a gift. She’s been a great addition in so many ways, super positive. (The team) likes each other, they’re playing well together. I go in the locker room, they’re all singing. I love how they’re all getting along. I don’t have any superstars. Each night, somebody (different) can come in and play great.”


The Rams (1-2) have shown an ability to produce with multiple scorers. On Tuesday night, sophomore Abby Morrill scored two goals, while junior Elise Cunningham — who scored three goals in two quarters in an 8-1 win over Erskine Academy last week — added another.

“These are the types of games you want to be a part of, neck and neck, back and forth,” Cony head coach Holly Daigle said. “Of course, you want to be on the winning end of it. But we did so many things really, really well tonight, that translated into us getting some beautiful goals. Mistakes were also made, but we’re on game three. We have a lot of season left and I’m excited about the things that we can build on.”

Both teams are enjoying the benefit of playing on new turf fields this season, and it showed in the style of play. Cony and Gardiner were able to move up and down the field quickly, often using long passes to its advantage, setting up for occasional breakaways for forwards.

The evening wasn’t just a celebration for the winner, it was also a celebration of something the two programs and schools have managed to do together. It was the 14th Drive Out Cancer game, a tradition started by former Cony field hockey coach Krista Chase and former Gardiner field hockey coach Moe McNally as a service project to raise money for the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care in Augusta.

In the years since, the football, soccer and cheerleading teams for both schools have also helped in the effort, raising money through gate admissions, 50/50 raffles and donations. It was announced before the game Tuesday that the two schools have raised more than $120,000 in the last 14 years.

“I love playing Drive Out Cancer game, just the good cause that we’re doing,” Clary said. “Having the honorary captains (before the game). It just makes it such a special game, more than just a rivalry game with no benefits from it.”


Both teams had honorary captains for a ceremonial coin toss before the game. For Gardiner, it was Delene Jarvi, grandmother to forward McKenna Johnson, who has been in remission from breast cancer for 21 years. Cony’s honorary captain was Brad Hendrickson, a 1984 Hall-Dale graduate and father to Cony midfielder Caroline Hendrickson, who has been battling stage 4 stomach cancer. While the Rams may not have won on the field Tuesday night, Cony and the Hendrickson family celebrated a major victory off of it, as it was announced that Brad Hendrickson showed no signs of cancer in his latest positron emission tomography (PET) scan, much to the delight of members and fans of both teams.

One of the trophy boots for Cony Gardiner field hockey is seen before the Drive Out Cancer game Tuesday at Hoch Field in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“(Tuesday night was) all the great components,” Daigle said. “The rivalry. The boot. The Drive Out Cancer. Recognizing our honorary captains before the game, under the lights. The energy from the crowd, it’s all of it that makes this game so much fun.”

“When I realized the money that we had sent to (the Alfond Center), just from a bunch of kids, when you’re over $120,000 over 14 years, when you’re sending that kind of cash to the Alfond Center, it’s just staggering,” said Gallant, becoming emotional in her answer. “I’ve known Brad forever. That he’s cancer free right now is just phenomenal. It’s just phenomenal.

“This is really what it’s all about,” Gallant added. “It’s not just winning and losing. This is such a cool event. I can’t say enough good things, and to thank Krista and Moe saying 14 years ago, ‘What if we do something better? What if we make this more than a (rivalry game), but a work-together deal?’ Boy, if that doesn’t just teach kids what we really want them to know, huh?”

As players and coaches were walking off the field, Gallant had to be reminded to grab the boot, which was sitting at the end of the Gardiner bench.

It was an easy item to forget. Tuesday night was more than just a boot.

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