Last Friday’s 6-2 win over sixth-ranked Albany was arguably the most significant triumph in the history of the University of Maine field hockey program.
Albany became the first America East school to reach the NCAA tournament semifinals last fall en route to a 20-3 season.
Maine, which snapped the Great Danes’ 11-game road win streak, beat Vermont 3-1 on Sunday and is 12-2 entering Tuesday’s game at Dartmouth.
The Black Bears on Tuesday broke into the National Field Hockey Coaches Association rankings, tied for 19th with Princeton.
Two of the key components in Maine’s success are its freshman class and its scoring balance. Five freshman regulars have been productive
“They’re incredible. All of the freshmen have stepped up in one way or another,” said Maine senior center back and captain Nicole Sevey of Skowhegan, who has anchored the back line with Katie Bingle.
“They’re outstanding. They came in with a lot of experience,” said coach Josette Babineau. “Many of them had already played against NCAA players through their national programs. They had played at a level above their club and provincial programs.”
Canadians Ella Mosky, a back, and midfielder Samantha Gomes patrol the right side of the field.
Mosky, who has a goal and two assists, is “very steady and a good attacking player from that position,” Babineau said, while Gomes (2 assists) has “incredible speed and incredible hand speed and stick skills.”
Another Canadian, Libby Riedl, is tied for the team lead in scoring with 20 points (5 goals, 10 assists).
“Libby is a pretty good goal scorer that we use at forward and in the midfield,” said Babineau.
Australian left back Samantha Wagg (6 goals, 1 assist) has some different skills than the other backs.
“We use her skill on penalty corners. She is a great ball striker. She is incredibly powerful. She is quite dangerous,” said Babineau.
New Zealand native Casey Crowley has registered five goals and five assists.
“Casey’s attacking skills with the ball are pretty much at a different level than some other players,” said Babineau. “She’s a good passer who creates chances.”
Riedl, Wagg and Crowley are among eight Black Bears with four or more goals. Eleven have scored at least twice. Maine is averaging four goals and 15.6 shots on goal.
Junior Sydney Veljacic leads Maine with nine goals with junior Danielle Aviani and senior Marissa Shaw of Plymouth collecting seven each.
“I was talking to a teammate the other day and saying how cool it is to see everyone scoring. It’s not just the same person all the time,” said Sevey.
Babineau said several players are prolific scorers but what has made the team more dangerous is, “they’re able to connect with each other. That’s made a big difference.”
“I haven’t played on a team at Maine that works this well together,” said Sevey.
Babineau said Sevey and fellow seniors Jessica Skillings, Bingle, Shaw and Cassidy Svetek have provided exceptional leadership.
“The seniors are such a hardworking group,” Babineau said.