Messalonskee’s Sophia Ventimiglia, right, shown scoring against Bangor last season, scored the winning goal in the Eagles’ 2-1 win over Skowhhegan on Monday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file


On Monday night, the Messalonskee field hockey team was celebrating like it was 2017.

In rainy conditions, the Eagles (3-1) stunned Skowhegan with a 2-1 victory at Veterans Field in Oakland. A goal by sophomore Sophia Ventimiglia with less than nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter decided the contest. It’s the first loss for Skowhegan (4-1) — the defending Class A champion — since it fell to Cheverus in the 2021 Class A final. It was also the first defeat for the River Hawks in the regular season since Sept. 6, 2017 — when Messalonskee pulled out a 2-1 overtime victory.

“It feels nice, (beating Skowhegan) has honestly been a goal of mine since I’ve been here, and this is my third year,” said Messalonskee head coach Katie Brann. “It’s a big milestone. It’s just nice to see the girls that have been with me the last two or three years, to see them work toward that goal today and reach that.”

Success is nothing new for the program. Brann, now in her third season, has led the Eagles to the Class A North semifinals each of her previous two seasons. The two keys to the Eagles’ early success, Brann said, has been teamwork and positional flexibility.

“Honestly, it’s very drama-free,” Brann said. “The girls get along great. We have a lot of girls on the field that have played forward, (midfield) and back, just this year. I think just having options — especially against a team like Skowhegan, where they can figure out your game plan and are well coached — to move people around, that makes it more of a chess match.”


The Eagles have another tough opponent this week, when they hit the road to take on Winthrop, the defending Class C champion, on Wednesday at 4 p.m.


• • •


There will be far more than just the old western boot to celebrate when the Cony and Gardiner field hockey teams hit the field against one another this week.

Friday marks the 15th Drive Out Cancer game, a tradition started by former Cony head coach Krista Chase, as well as legendary Gardiner head coach Moe McNally, as a service project to raise money for the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care in Augusta. Through gate admissions, 50/50 raffles and donations, the two rival programs have raised $120,000 over the past 14 years.


“We’re thrilled about it, it’s been a wonderful tradition,” Cony head coach Holly Daigle said. “I’ve been so inspired by the communities of Augusta and Gardiner, friends, family and relatives that have supported our cause. They come to our games, they make the donations. So many people, unfortunately, have been impacted by cancer. It’s just a very special event for all of us.”

It also helps that both the Rams (3-0) and Tigers (4-1) just happen to be No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, in the Class B North standings. For Cony, Helen Dineen and Abby Morrill have both been early offensive standouts. The Rams have scored 27 goals in their three games, and have allowed just one on defense. The only issue Cony has had in the early going has been Mother Nature.

“It’s been a great start to the season,” Daigle said. “Our only complaint is that we haven’t played enough. But the girls are staying positive, they’re still showing up to practice, they’re working hard. It’s given us a little time to rest and work on game strategy. … I’ve been really impressed with their focus and their work ethic. It can be really hard when you go a week in between every game. We’re just excited to pick up with our schedule.”

Brad Hendrickson, the Cony Field Hockey’s 2022 Drive Out Cancer Honorary captain, left, his wife Meredith Hendrickson and daughter Caroline Hendrickson and Cony coach Holly Daigle clap during pregame announcements at the 2022 Drive Out Cancer field hockey game in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Gardiner has been thriving under new head coach Jess Merrill. The Tigers have scored 30 goals in their five games, and have shutouts in all four of their wins. The only blemish was a 6-0 loss to Belfast (7-0), the No. 1-ranked team in B North, on Sept. 5.

“The girls have bought in to the passing sequences that we’ve put in,” Merrill said. “We’ve got a new formation, and the girls have really bought into the idea of moving the ball quickly up the field, finding those passing lanes and getting into the spots that they need to. We’ve found success with it, and it’s been working out for them.”

Scoring has been fairly spread out for the Tigers so far, Merrill said, noting Gabby Sousa, Brynnlea Chiasson, Brianna Smith and Anna Tweedy as early standouts.


“All of them have multiple goals, so it’s really great that it’s a united front,” Merrill said. “It’s not one person scoring for us.”

The Drive Out Cancer game is scheduled for Friday at 4 p.m. at Hoch Field in Gardiner. It was Gardiner that beat Cony in last year’s Drive Out Cancer game, a thrilling 4-3 finish that had the Tigers score three unanswered goals to pick up the win.


• • •


The Erskine Academy boys soccer team is scoring, and scoring in bunches.


The Eagles (4-1-0) are currently the top-ranked team in the Class B North standings. In two wins last week — a 9-1 Belfast and 7-2 over Waterville — Erskine outscored opponents, 16-3.

“We’re super excited for how well we’ve been playing,” Erskine head coach Carrie Larrabee said.

The glaring standout for Erskine thus far has been senior Holden McKenney, who managed to score nine goals in the two wins last week.

“It’s actually huge for him (to be scoring), because he’s usually a very selfless player,” Larrabee said. “He’s always looking to pass and work with his teammates. So when he gets those shots and capitalizes on them, that’s not only a huge confidence booster for him, but the team.”

Larrabee said the return of Landon Lefebvre, a senior captain who has been out with a hamstring pull, should also be a boost for the Eagles. Erskine hosts Medomak Valley on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.



• • •


The Gardiner boys soccer team is also off to a good start. The Tigers entered play Tuesday sitting 3-1-1 and in sixth place in B North.

“I think we’ve started out OK,” Gardiner head coach Nick Wallace said. “We’ve had a pretty tough stretch (to start). We’ve had to play Erskine, Winslow, Medomak, Morse. … I think our leaders are starting to show up. Some of our guys are stepping up into that role now. They’re showing up every day to work hard and that’s all that matters.”

Wallace has noted a few seniors have stepped into leadership roles, namely Ethan Tibbetts, Aiden Paradis and Dillon Elliott.

“Ethan had to change positions because one of our center backs got hurt,” Wallace said. “He’s stepped back into the center back role and has done a phenomenal job leading us. Dillon has been steady in the back, he’s solid as a rock back there. Aiden, who is an outside mid, has had to drop into that center mid (position) for us. Trying to figure out rotations is still something that we’re working on, but those are three guys that I can count on to play a lot of minutes, always show up to (play) 100 percent every day and just work really hard.”


Gardiner travels to Augusta to play rival Cony on Thursday at 5 p.m.


• • •

Maranacook volleyball coach Robin Graziano speaks to her team during a volleyball scrimmage on Aug. 22 in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

The Maranacook volleyball team is finding success in its first season of varsity play.

The Black Bears, who play in Class C, are 2-2 to start the season. Maranacook beat Lee Academy/Mattanawcook 3-0 in Readfield on Sept. 9. The Black Bears picked up a notable victory on Monday, beating Class B Nokomis 3-0.

The schedule does not get easy for Maranacook, which plays Class A Lewiston on Thursday before facing Messalonskee and Cony, both strong Class B programs, over the next week. The Black Bears have a second match against Nokomis, in Newport, on Sept. 27.

Comments are not available on this story.