Sometimes a winning tradition within an athletic program can be a burden for those trying to match or surpass the feats of the past.
This year’s Dexter field hockey team, however, is embracing both the tradition and success the Tigers have enjoyed over the last decade.
And with a 13-0 record entering Wednesday’ s regular-season finale against John Bapst of Bangor, Dexter is the only unbeaten, untied field hockey team remaining in Eastern Maine.
“There’s a strong field hockey tradition here, and these girls have really bought into it,” said Margaret Veazie, who has coached the sport in her home town for 18 years overall, including 10 years at the varsity level. “They believe in the program, and [assistant coach] Sharon [Palmer] and I believe in them.”
Dexter was the state’s dominant Class C program at the turn of the century, winning a state title in Veazie’s first year as head coach in 1997 and adding four consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.
The Tigers have remained competitive since then, but were unable to advance beyond the regional semifinals again until last fall, when they reached the Eastern C final before dropping a hard-fought 1-0 decision to eventual state champion Foxcroft Academy.
But last year’s experience has proven to be valuable asset for a Dexter team that graduated seven players but returned a solid nucleus of seniors and juniors.
“These girls didn’t win a lot when they played in junior high,” said Veazie, “but from going to the Eastern Maine championship game last year now they have a better understanding of what it takes.”
The Tigers are anchored by their five seniors, including Jess Mason, who leads the team with 15 goals, and goalie Sam Conway, who has seven shut-outs.
They are joined by Claire Wyman, the team leader with 12 assists, while Megan Crane and Kara Lawson to provide the team valuable leadership.
That group is supported by a deep junior class that features Kayla Libby, a second-year starter at sweeper, twins Crissy Mountain and Cally Mountain, Olivia Gardner and Katie Eastman.
Two sophomores, Shelbee Lancaster and Chelsea Crane, also start for the Tigers.
Dexter employs a 3-2-3-1-1 formation Veazie describes as “risky” compared to most player alignments, but adds it has enabled the Tigers to remain strong defensively while growing more dangerous offensively.
“Offensively we’re much better than we were last year,” she said. “I think the experience the girls got last year has really helped.”
Eastern Maine has dominated Class C at the field hockey state championship level in recent times, winning the last three titles and seven in the last years.
Dexter hopes to add to that dominance in the coming weeks, though Veazie knows area rivals like Foxcroft, Stearns of Millinocket and Central of Corinth remain formidable challengers.
PVC slates championship games
The Penobscot Valley Conference will begin staging championship games in all sports it sanctions that are governed by Heal Points beginning this fall, according to league president Tony Hamlin, athletic administrator and boys varsity basketball coach at Penquis Valley High School of Milo.
The PVC began sponsoring conference championship games in boys and girls basketball last winter, but will extend that practice this year to add similar contests in field hockey, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball and boys and girls tennis.
“Our goals for this are to promote the sports and to promote the league, and to provide an extra incentive for the kids who play,” said Hamlin.
Since the 31-school PVC includes Class B, C and D programs in various sports, teams that will play in PVC championship matches will be determined by Heal Points regardless of class, Hamlin said.
The inaugural PVC field hockey championship match is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Brewer High School, while the boys and girls soccer matches at set for 4 p.m., Oct. 22, at sites to be determined.
Admission for each game is $5 for adults, $3 for children.
Skowhegan hall adds four
The Skowhegan Football Hall of Fame added four new members during the school’s recent homecoming celebration.
New inductees are the late Tom Bolstridge, Norman Brawn, Kevin Jarvais and Jack Rowbottom.
Bolstridge was an offensive guard and inside linebacker who was the second-leading tackler on the Indians’ 1977 state championship team. He went on to a successful career in the Navy until he was killed in a car accident at age 28.
Brawn played linebacker and running back on the 1951 and 1952 teams, the first unbeaten and untied teams in school history. Brawn also was a star track athlete who went on to play football at Maine Maritime Academy until suffering a serious leg injury.
Jarvais, a 1985 SAHS graduate, was a star football and baseball player for the Indians. He played running back and linebacker for the football team, recording more than 100 tackles and leading the team in rushing touchdowns as a senior. He also captained the 1984 Skowhegan football team.
Rowbottom was a three-sport standout at Skowhegan, earning all-conference honors in football and baseball and captaining the baseball and basketball teams as a senior in 2000. He was named the school’s athlete of the year in 2000, and also earned several leadership awards.