ORONO, Maine — Three of the four Miss Maine Field Hockey finalists and six foreign players will make up the freshman class at the University of Maine next fall.
Head coach Josette Babineau will have to replace eight players off last fall’s nationally ranked 16-4 team, including the school’s all-time leading scorer Kelly Newton; two other of the Bears’ top career point-producers, Stephanie Gardiner and Jocelyn Mitchell; and goalkeeper Brittany Fleck.
There will be 11 returnees off the team that lost to Boston University 4-0 in the America East semifinals.
Meanwhile, women’s ice hockey coach Maria Lewis has a 10-player recruiting class to fill the void left by the loss of seven players who helped the Black Bears set a school record for Hockey East wins (11-8-2) and tie a school record for overall wins (17-11-6).
They will return 14 players.
Skowhegan High School teammates Jessica Skillings and Nicole Sevey, who led the Indians to three state Class A championships in four years, and Nokomis High School of Newport star Marissa Shaw were the Miss Maine Field Hockey finalists. Skillings is a forward who has already spent a semester at Maine, Sevey is a midfielder and Shaw is a midfielder-back who led Nokomis to the state Class B crown in 2010.
They will be joined by forwards Cassidy Svetek of Burlington, Ontario; Alex Taare from Gisborne, New Zealand, and Katie Bingle from Selby, England; midfielder-forward Elke Jacobse from Badhoevedorp, Netherlands; forward-back Esther Overeem from Hilversum, Netherlands; and goalkeeper Natasha Ford from Vancouver, British Columbia.
“I’m very happy with this class,” said Babineau. “It’s always stressful to replace such a large class. But this is a very talented group.”
She said several of the players have extensive experience at a high level which should enable them to become instant contributors.
“Hopefully, they will give us the depth to continue the strong, attacking style of play we’ve had the past couple of years. We have enough forwards coming in and enough experience in the backfield to play the same way and not miss too much in caliber.”
She also said she is very pleased to have the three Maine players on board.
Maine will be looking for its first NCAA Tournament berth in field hockey.
Lewis’ ice hockey recruits are forwards Rachel Bellio of Denver, Colo.; Hailey Browne of Oakville, Ontario; Abbey Cook of Fairport, N.Y.; Jillian Langtry of Fort Frances, Ontario; Shawna Lesperance of Belle River, Ontario; and Audra Richards of Maplewood, Minn.; defensemen Rebecca Dow of Ottawa, Ontario; Brooklyn Langlois of Steinbach, Manitoba; and Kelsey MacSorley of Stratford, Ontario; and goalie Natalie Robinson of Huntsville, Ontario.
Browne is a center who transferred from Mercyhurst College. She had three goals and two assists in 34 games as a freshman for the 23-8-3 Lakers, who reached the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals where they were beaten by Wisconsin 3-1.
Lewis said Robinson will probably redshirt next season since they return Brittany Ott and Kylie Smith, who will both be seniors.
“We’ve got a great mix of size, speed and skill,” said Lewis, who praised assistants Richard Reichenbach and Tyler Bilton for doing an “amazing job” recruiting this class.
“There will be a lot of competition [for playing time],” said Lewis. “These players complement our current roster very well and will be expected to contribute from Day One.”
The Black Bears finished tied with Providence for fourth place in Hockey East but lost to the Friars 6-0 in their quarterfinal in Providence.
“Next year’s goal is to finish in the top three in Hockey East,” said Lewis, who will have to replace her second-, third- and fourth-leading scorers (Danielle Ward, Myriam Croussette and Dawn Sullivan) and two workhorse defensemen (Melissa Gagnon, Ashley Norum).
All recruits must meet school and NCAA eligibility requirements.