BANGOR, Maine — The seniors on the Bangor field hockey team have experienced plenty of highs and lows in their four years donning crimson and white.
As freshmen in 2006, they watched as the Rams, then the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Maine Class A playoffs, fell on the road to Hampden Academy in the preliminary round, and then also suffered first-round losses to Edward Little of Auburn a year later and to Gardiner last fall.
But this season has been one of their best as coach Sue Tyler’s club not only posted nine regular-season wins (9-5), but earned the No. 3 seed in Eastern Maine and a home quarterfinal game against Oxford Hills of South Paris at 3 p.m. today.
Quarterfinal action will commence throughout the state today and Saturday in all three classes.
Hosting a postseason game is not something this group of Rams anticipated four years ago.
“For once, Bangor field hockey is not a joke and we get to host a playoff game,” senior left wing Brittney Chapman said.
Left winger Chapman, linemate Ashley Higgins, midfielder Casey Pray and goalkeeper Melissa Mower have four years of varsity experience, and things are much more upbeat than in 2006.
“Freshman year when I came in, every time I said field hockey at school [classmates were] like ‘field hockey, that’s a joke,”’ Pray said. “[Now] people actually come to our games and people actually think field hockey’s going to make it somewhere.”
Mower added, “The crowds have been really supportive and we’ve never had this many people come to our games.”
The mood at Wednesday afternoon’s practice was light yet fairly festive, as the Rams prepared for an Oxford Hills team that they didn’t play during the regular season.
“Everybody can taste it right now. It’s so close but you just can’t give up,” Higgins said. “Today in practice, I saw people working extra hard, running 10 times faster than they normally do and it was like game speed.”
Having a top-notch coaching staff in Tyler, who won a national championship while coaching at the University of Maryland, and Krystal Doughty, who played college field hockey at Husson University, has also paid dividends.
“[Tyler] definitely pushes us to do our best. Knowing her background, she knows what she’s talking about,” Higgins said.
Bangor has also played with tons of confidence this fall, particularly against Class A heavyweights Skowhegan and Messalonskee of Oakland.
“I think that having such close games with Skowhegan and Messalonskee, we don’t look at those as losses,” Mower said. “We’re going to get them, we’re not going to give up.”
The Rams have also have a talented cast of juniors, including Meegan Bolduc, Dana Libhart and Hillary Throckmorton to complement the strong senior class, which also includes 2008 All-State selection Alexis Casey and midfielder Emily Chick.
This Bangor team has set the standard for future squads.
“It makes you want to come play field hockey,” Chapman said. “If we can actually prove ourselves, people will want to play field hockey.”
Elsewhere around Eastern Maine, Brewer earned the eighth and final playoff spot and will travel to undefeated Skowhegan Saturday morning.
Reigning EM Class B champ Nokomis of Newport opens defense of its title as the No. 2 seed against No. 7 Belfast while fourth-ranked John Bapst hosts Waterville in Bangor Saturday at 1 p.m.
In Class C, top-seeded and defending regional champion Dexter faces Hall-Dale of Farmingdale at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. No. 7 Orono hits the road to face No. 2 Winthrop today at 3 p.m., third-seeded Foxcroft Academy takes on No. 6 Mattanawcook of Lincoln, also today at 3, while fourth-seeded Stearns hosts No. 5 Central of Corinth in Millinocket Saturday at 1 p.m.