There have been two constants with the Belfast High School field hockey program during the last four decades.
One is winning consistently and the other is the Lions’ head coach. Allen Holmes has seven state championship trophies as he begins year No. 40 at Belfast.
The Lions went 14-1-3 a year ago and the catalyst was junior goalkeeper Julia Ward. She made 24 saves and allowed just two goals in their four postseason victories, including six saves in the come-from-behind 2-1 win over York in the state championship game.
So it should come as no surprise to anyone when Holmes says, “we’re building from the goal out.”
Ward said she expects the Lions to be “just as strong as last year.”
Holmes said they aren’t as good yet after losing eight regulars off last year’s team.
“But in a couple of weeks, we’ll be up to last year’s standards,” predicted Ward. “The girls are willing to work hard so they’ll catch up pretty quickly.”
Holmes feels his team’s defense will be a strength and his Lions will be strong up the middle.
“My old baseball coach, Don Vachon, said you’ve got to be tough up the middle,” said Holmes.
One of the key components in the middle will be senior Katrina Lapham.
Lapham was a center back last year and made two critical defensive saves in the 1-0 double-overtime win over Nokomis of Newport in the Eastern Maine Class B championship game.
“That’s going to be huge for us. But she’ll drop back on penalty corners,” said Holmes.
Vastly improved junior Savanna Wood will take Lapham’s old spot at center back.
Seniors Courtney Drinkwater and Kaysea Harford will be the left and right backs, respectively, although Holmes said Harford isn’t 100 percent yet after undergoing knee surgery.
Makaila Gould, who had been pencilled in as the returning starting left back, will miss the season due to a knee injury.
Lapham will be flanked in the midfield by junior Kristine Mehuren on the left side and sophomore Britt Littlefield on the right.
Junior Maddy Cummings and senior Lexi Nelligan will be the offensive catalysts at left inner and left wing after combining for more than 15 goals a year ago.
“They work very nicely together,” said Holmes.
Cummings had two assists in the state championship win over York and two game-winning goals in the Eastern Maine playoffs.
Senior Logan Blood and junior Kelsey Grass will be the on the right side with Blood being the inner and Grass playing on the wing.
Juniors Hannah Bailey and Dakota Black and senior McKenzie Thibodeau are utility players and Madison Littlefield, a sophomore, is the backup goalie.
Ward said she would like to have more shutouts than she did a year ago. She said she has the fullbacks to help her do so.
“We have solid backs,” said Ward.