By Patrick Carson
OXFORD HILLS — The combination of losing 14 seniors to graduation and the hardest schedule in Maine has proved to be a difficult task for the 2017 Lady Viking field hockey team. Yet if you happen to attend a field hockey practice or game, you would never know it by the laughter, friendships, focus and effort on the field.
“This has been a positive building year,” said Head Coach Cyndi Goddard. “Despite the win or loss column, the team continues to strive to become better players. They ask great questions at practice. They work hard at practice and sometimes I think they compete harder against their own team then opponents.”
Unlike the 2016 senior heavy playoff team from a year ago, this team returned only one starter and has just four upper classmen to provide experience and leadership. “I knew graduating 14 players from last years team was going to be difficult,” Goddard continued. “Then you add a new schedule with a tiered format with the top teams (based on last years record) playing each other twice, it has been a very challenging year for a team that is composed of mostly sophomores who are accustom to winning.”
“We have moments in the games where they compete with any team and were trying to build on those moments,” added Senior Captain Gina Colley. “We have been playing one good team after another and have never really caught a break. During halftime, we find something to focus on and come out in the second half stronger and faster each time. We play better as the game goes on. Even if the score doesn’t end up in our favor, I’m proud of how we fight and give it our all each and every game.”
“The positives and potential far outweigh our challenges,” Goodard added. “I love watching the passing combo of Jade Smedberg and Brooke Carson on the front line. The midfield of Kate Bowen, Lauren Merrill and Maggie Hartnett is a sweet combination of speed, power and smart play, while the backs of Kori Khakonen, Emmy Corbett and Gina Colley anchor the defense. Our goalie tandem of Kaisa Heikkinen and Madi Day have been fantastic and kept us in every game. We have a future to look forward to.”