BREWER, Maine — When Sarah Estes was a player at Brewer High School, making the Class A North playoffs was out of the question.
“I didn’t even look at the Heal Points standings. It wasn’t even on our radar,” said Estes, who now is Brewer’s head coach. “We were never even close to making the playoffs.”
The Witches, who are in Class B, have made the playoffs three times in her four seasons as the coach, once in Class A and twice in Class B, including this season.
But Estes has taken the 10th-seeded Witches to a new level after they upset No. 7 Old Town 1-0 in the preliminary round of the Class B North playoffs on Saturday.
It is the first time in over 20 years that Brewer won a playoff game.
Brewer is 6-8-1 entering Wednesday’s 3 p.m. quarterfinal showdown with No. 2 Belfast (13-1) at Point Lookout in Northport.
“We have girls who have been dedicated to field hockey for a long time. And to see their time and effort and dedication pay off in this big way is really exciting,” said the 28-year-old Estes.
Brewer lost to Old Town in the Class B playoffs in Estes’ first season at Brewer after leaving as Old Town’s coach and the Witches were ousted by Mt. Blue of Farmington in the Class A playoffs a year ago.
Estes told her players before the game that, “this is their opportunity to make history” and that’s what they did.
Senior center back Grace Brydges said when Estes told them Brewer hadn’t won a playoff game in more than 20 years, “it definitely made us want to play harder. And, being a senior, I wanted to win it even more. We came together and we won.”
“It was really exciting,” said senior right midfielder Natalie Mayo.
Skip Estes, Sarah’s father and assistant coach who also serves as the softball coach at Brewer, said it was nice to see his daughter’s first senior class accomplish it.
And he said the future is bright.
“The JV program was very good this year. It’s the best JV team I’ve ever coached,” said Skip Estes, who started the middle school field hockey program in Brewer in 2005. “The program is moving forward. We’ll be as good if not better next year.”
The senior class has been the catalyst for team along with Argentinian exchange student Loli Eddy, a junior center midfielder.
Senior forward M.J. Sellars scored the goal against Old Town and classmate Jennah Geiser posted the shutout in goal.
The other senior starters have included Brydges, Mayo, back Kayla Brooks, and forwards Olivia Wing and Maria Maxsimic. Another senior, Lauren Linscott, has started the last two games at sweeper in place of junior Riley Curtis, who has mononucleosis, according to Skip Estes.
Sellars is a four-year starter and Brydges, Mayo, Brooks, Wing and Maxsimic are three-year starters. This Geiser’s first season as a starter.
But the Witches also have some depth as they used 16 players in the Old Town game.
“We have subbed a lot this year and that has also been a key to our success,” said Sarah Estes.
Eddy has been exceptional in the midfield for the Witches.
“She has brought another level of hustle and intensity to our team,” said Sarah Estes.
“[Eddy] has been awesome. She is one of our most skilled players and she helps everybody out a lot,” said Brydges.
Eddy said she has enjoyed her experience at Brewer.
“It has been really exciting. There are a lot of nice people and nice coaches here,” she said.
The Witches’ record is misleading as five of their losses have come to teams with a combined record of 60-9-1 (Belfast, Winslow, Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield, Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft and Gardiner).
“It really prepared us well for the playoffs,” said Sarah Estes.
The Witches lost to Belfast 4-0 on Sept. 14 but Mayo said they trailed only 2-0 for most of the game.
“We played real hard and we definitely played well against them. It won’t be a blowout. We can play with them,” she said.