ORONO, Maine — Canaan’s Courtney Veinotte had a total of five goals in her first two seasons at the University of Maine.
But the former Miss Maine Field Hockey nominee, who had 54 points her senior year at Skowhegan High and helped lead the Indians to four straight state Class A titles, has already racked up seven goals and three assists in 15 games this season.
That includes six goals in the junior’s last five games.
Veinotte and her Black Bear teammates have already shattered the school record for goals with 66 en route to their 11-4 campaign with three regular season games remaining before the America East playoffs.
“I’m getting older and I think it’s a change in attitude,” said Veinotte. “I’m a lot more confident this year. I’m stronger. I feel like I worked hard over the summer and came in ready [to go].”
Veinotte has always had the skills and speed to be a prolific scorer, according to sophomore forward Stephanie Gardiner.
“Last year, she played a lot of midfield, but she’s getting a lot of time on the forward line this year and I think she likes it. She’s playing really well,” Gardiner said. “She’s very quick and makes great fakes over the ball.”
Maine coach Josette Babineau said Veinotte is “a lot more experienced and a lot more comfortable with her skills. Her experience is really showing.
“She’s always been very athletic and now she’s able to use everything: her athleticism, her skills and her knowledge of the game. She’s a very smart player and a tremendous worker. She’s one of the fittest players on our team,” added Babineau.
Babineau said she moves Veinotte up front to spell forwards Gardiner, Kelly Newton and Jocelyn Mitchell, and it also gives the Bears’ attack another look.
“It has worked out really well for us because she’s a little bit of a different forward than the other three,” said Babineau. “She has speed and she’s more controlled with her skill. Sometimes, if our other forwards are being marked tightly, it changes the game a little to put her up there.”
Veinotte said she hasn’t been surprised by her output, but admitted, “I actually didn’t even know I had seven goals.
“I was just going game by game,” said Veinotte, who had been slowed by a hamstring pull earlier this season.
Veinotte said having a cast of talented scorers around her certainly helps. Thirteen Bears have scored at least a goal and seven have scored three or more.
“You don’t have to worry about picking or choosing who you’re going to pass to. We’re getting the ball to anybody and everybody and we’ve had a lot of games where a lot of people get a lot of [scoring] chances,” said Veinotte.
Newton (16 goals, 9 assists) and Mitchell (16 & 4) lead the Bears in scoring followed by Gardiner (9 & 8), Lelia Sacre (5 & 8) and Veinotte.
The Maine players are pleased with setting the record for goals.
“It’s really nice. We’ve been thinking about it for a while so it was a really good goal for us to complete,” said senior left back Jamie Flagg.
“It’s amazing,” said Gardiner.
The Bears are coming off a 4-3 win over Fairfield, in which they erased a 2-0 deficit in the second half.
“That has given us a great level of confidence. We know we can come from behind and win,” said Gardiner.
Maine hosts Vermont on Saturday at noon; plays Providence in Durham, N.H. on Sunday at 2 p.m. and finishes up with Boston University at home on Nov. 1 at 1 p.m.
UM soccer Seniors Day today
It will be Seniors Day for the University of Maine women’s soccer team today when the Black Bears host Stony Brook at 3 p.m.
The game has important playoff implications as the Black Bears (3-2-1 in the conference) can finish anywhere from second to seventh.
The top six teams in the nine-team league qualify for the playoffs with the first and second seeds earning first round byes. Maine is tied with Albany for fourth place, one point behind 4-2 Binghamton.
“This is a very significant game for us,” said Maine coach Scott Atherley. “If we win our last two games, the worst we could finish would be third. And if Binghamton loses, we could be second.”
Maine is 6-5-2 overall and has allowed just one goal in its last three games.
Stony Brook is 5-1-1 in the conference, good for second place. Stony Brook is 6-8-2 overall.
Maine is coming off road wins over Hartford (1-0) and New Hampshire (2-0).
“I’ve been impressed with our last two games. We’ve started well and have played hard for 90 minutes,” said Atherley.
Six seniors will be playing their last home regular season games: Lewiston striker Laura Martel, York center back Hailey Blackburn, strikers Veronique Fleury and Alli Krous; midfeidler Cristina Di Ielsi and center back Anjelica Hodgson.
“Our goal is to send them out on a high note and earn a chance to play a home playoff game,” said Atherley. “The thing I’m most proud of is the effort and leadership they’ve shown, particularly in the last two games. We’ve never needed their leadership more than we have lately. They have really stepped up at a critical moment. I hope that continues.”
He said the seniors have done a nice job integrating their 10 new players into their system.
Martel has a team-high 10 goals to go with one assist this season and Fleury is the second leading scorer with two goals and three assists.
“Laura has developed into a legitimate goal scorer at this level; Veronique has great vision and is a good passer; Di Ielsi is a real complete player who is among the best players in the conference; Blackburn and Hodgson have been steady and consistent in the back and are very smart hard-working players and Krous hasn’t played as much but has a lot of potential,” said Atherley.