BELFAST, Maine — Coach Allen Holmes hoped his Belfast High School field hockey team would have a shot to defend its state Class B championship this season, but he admits he wasn’t sure if that was going to become a reality.
“If you asked me back in June [about going back to the state championship game], I would have said I hope we would but there’s no guarantee. We lost nine seniors. But these girls have stepped up,” said Holmes after his 14-1-2 Lions beat Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft 2-1 on Tuesday night to earn a date with Leavitt of Turner in Saturday’s state title game at the University of Maine in Orono.
“We have had great leadership and we’re tough up the middle,” said Holmes.
He was referring to forward Maddy Cummings, who had four goals in three postseason games, including the game-winners against Gardiner (3-2) and Foxcroft Academy, center midfielder Katrina Lapham, center back Kaysea Harford and goalkeeper Julia Ward.
Lapham had the game-winner in a 1-0 win over Mount View of Thorndike in the semifinals.
All of them are seniors except Cummings, who is a junior.
“We had a core group coming back who could do it, but I didn’t know if we could do it,” said Ward. “Only a few girls came back to the positions they played last year. [Lapham] was the sweeper last year.
“So between the new players and the players learning new positions, we had to get used to each other. It took time. We had some rough spots but we got through all of them.”
“We’re a family,” said Cummings. “We don’t do the blame-game. Everyone takes responsibility. We get along well. There’s no drama on our team. We play well together.”
“We believe in ourselves,” said Lapham. “We work hard every day. It was hard losing so many seniors. Everyone thinks you’re going to be the same [team], but it’s really difficult because every team is trying its best against you.”
Lapham said the returnees have played together since middle school and we “mesh real well together.”
Cummings was the leading scorer and Holmes figures she has scored at least 20 this season.
Senior speedster Lexi Nelligan joins her up front along with senior Logan Blood, who had the tying goal against Foxcroft, and junior Kelsey Grass.
Nelligan assisted on both goals against Foxcroft and Cummings also assisted on Blood’s goal.
Senior Courtney Drinkwater and junior Kristine Mehuren join Lapham in the midfield and the back line consists of sophomore Brittany Littlefield, Harford and junior Savana Wood.
Belfast has scored 47 goals and has allowed just 15. Belfast has allowed only 10 goals in its last 11 games.
“[Ward] has been outstanding. That has really helped us,” said Cummings.