NEWPORT, Maine — The Nokomis High School field hockey team has been among the best in Class B for a long time. This year is no exception.
Katie Thompson’s Warriors were off to a 6-0 start after Thursday’s 6-0 victory over Morse of Bath and have outscored their opponents 22-2.
The Warriors were 41-6-2 in the previous three seasons and annexed their first state Class B championship in 2010.
As with every year, key personnel have to replaced.
Two years ago, leading scorers Leah Edmondson and Marissa Shaw graduated and took their skills to Northeastern and the University of Maine, respectively.
Last season, influential central midfielder Taylor Lovely graduated along with two other starters.
But former back Kayla Braley has stepped into Lovely’s role and filled the void nicely.
“We knew it was going to be hard to replace that spot. But Kayla has stepped in with a ton more confidence than last year. She has been cutting on to balls, sending them [downfield to start the attack], and she has controlled the midfield. It’s nice to have her there. We’re lucky she could step into that role,” said Thompson, who is in her 11th season at the Newport-based school.
“In the beginning, I was a little skeptical about it,” admitted Braley, a senior. “I wasn’t sure how it would work. But I really like it. My drives have always been one of my strongest things and that works well when we have fast forwards [like this season].”
The Warriors have a nice blend of experienced players and quality newcomers.
“We have the potential to do very well,” said Braley. “We did lose some essential people, but everybody has picked it up this year.”
“This is a really strong team,” said Thompson. “Skill-wise, we’re very balanced. We still have some challenging opponents ahead who will test us, for sure. But we have some great upperclassmen who set the tempo on the field. They have great skills, and they’re giving us good leadership. I’m happy with how we’ve been playing.”
“My senior group has played together since sixth grade,” said senior forward Lindsay Whitney. “We click together. It’s an everyday thing.”
Braley said in addition to the upperclassmen, “we have a few freshmen and some people who have moved up from the JV team, and they’re doing real well.”
One of the important newcomers is freshman forward Olivia Brown, who had two goals in a 4-1 win over defending state champ Leavitt of Turner and the game-winner in a 2-0 win over Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield.
“She’s been phenomenal. She’s fast and very aggressive,” said Braley.
Seniors Whitney and Drew Graves and junior Mikayla Pelkey are the veteran forwards who have also been instrumental in the attack.
Joining Braley in the midfield have been juniors Mikayla Charters and Kirsten Costedio.
The formidable back line includes seniors Kelsey Kerstetter and Taylor Shaw, sophomore Elizabeth Dunivan and junior Kamryn Foss. Foss is the sweeper.
Three-year starter Kendra Underhill, a senior, is a top-notch goalkeeper with a wealth of experience.