ORONO, Maine — After distinguished high school careers, former Skowhegan High School stars Nicole Sevey and Jessica Skillings and Nokomis High of Newport standout Marissa Shaw took their talents to the University of Maine.
They have had impactful careers at Maine and now that they are seniors they would love to help Maine earn its first NCAA Tournament berth.
“It’s hard to believe they’re already seniors,” said Maine coach Josette Babineau. “It has been exciting to watch them play and develop.
“They’re all doing very well.”
The versatile Sevey is the Black Bears’ captain and is a two-time America East and All-Region selection. She will start at either central midfield or center back depending upon the formation Babineau uses. Sevey has registered 16 goals and 13 assists in 60 career games.
“She has the opportunity to have a great senior year and even make All-American,” said Babineau.
Skillings, a right wing, is coming off her best season with three goals and four assists in 20 games to give her six goals and four assists in 59 career games.
“Jessica has great speed and is very powerful. She has really developed her finishing and entries into the circle,” said Babineau. “She’s having a great preseason.”
Shaw was a midfielder during an injury-marred (hamstring) junior year and is being moved up to left wing where she will team with Skillings.
“She is now 100 percent healthy and that makes a big difference. Together Marissa and Jessica will be very explosive,” said Babineau.
Shaw scored two goals in 15 games last season and has eight goals and seven assists in 53 games overall.
The trio said they have thoroughly enjoyed their time at Maine.
“Being on the team was the best part (of my college experience). We’ve got family forever,” said Skillings.
“It’s different because we’re on a team. Other students don’t get the same experience and I’m really happy to be a part of it,” said Sevey.
“It has been awesome … an unforgettable experience,” said Shaw.
They take tremendous pride in playing for their state university.
“The local kids look up to us so we want to set a good example. We want to show them that we’re proud to represent Maine. We love putting on that jersey and being here. To go to your state university is an honor,” said Skillings.
Since they have have been at Maine the Black Bears have gone 37-23, including a 10-10 mark last year.
They have high expectations for this season even though high-scoring three-time All-America East first-team selection Annabelle Hamilton and two-time AE choice Holly Stewart both have graduated.
“I expect a great year. We have an older forward line and I think we’re going to be really strong and dominant,” said Skillings. “Without (Hamilton and Stewart), we just tried to elevate our games this spring up to where they were at.”
Skillings said her ability to visualize the game has made her a more effective player.
Sevey said she’s hoping for “a successful year for myself but, more importantly, for the team. Like Jess said, we have all grown in so many different ways. Our strength is one of them. We condition every day. On the field I want to be a leader and use my voice (more). I want to talk to everyone and help the younger players.”
Shaw said she is looking forward to having a “solid year without another injury.”
Babineau returns a healthy nucleus and has added an “exciting” group of nine newcomers.
Both goaltenders return in Emma Cochran (1.81 goals-against average) and Emily Corbett (2.02).
Skowhegan redshirt sophomore Adriana Martineau will start at left back and will be joined by a combination of senior Katie Bingle, freshmen Samantha Wagg, Ella Mosky and Delaney Baxendale and Sevey. Freshman Lydia Gavner is another option.
The midfield will be comprised of juniors Sydney Veljacic and Belgrade’s Lynnae Luettich along with freshmen Casey Crowley and Samantha Gomes and, possibly, Sevey. Luettich transferred to Maine from Appalachian State.
Skillings and Shaw will be joined up front by junior Danielle Aviani, who has 19 goals in 40 career games, and senior Cassidy Svetek, who has 20 in 45 games.
Freshmen Hayley Marshall from Oak Hill High School in Sabattus and Libby Riedl and sophomore Madison Cummings of Belfast also will play up front.
Maine opens its season in Lowell, Mass. against LaSalle University on Friday and Holy Cross on Saturday.