April 19, 2019
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Former ice hockey goalie backstops Husson field hockey team to record-setting season

BANGOR, Maine — Skowhegan’s Anne Marie Provencal is putting together a memorable end to an outstanding career.

The goalkeeper for the Husson University field hockey team made 11 saves on Wednesday to lead the Eagles to their first ever NCAA Division III tournament victory, a 1-0 triumph over fifth-ranked Babson College at Wellesley, Massachusetts.

It also gave the Eagles a school-record 13 wins as they advance to play the University of Rochester (17-3) on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Provencal was named the North Atlantic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and also earned Northeast Athletic Conference/North Atlantic Conference tourney Most Valuable Player Award recognition. She was an All-NAC, first-team choice.

She has played two sports in college and at two different schools.

Provencal, who backstopped Skowhegan High to three straight Class A field hockey state championships with three title-game shutouts, was also a defenseman on the boys hockey team. She played two years of softball and was on a state championship softball team.

She went on to play 1 1/2 seasons of ice hockey for the women’s team at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham before transferring to Husson. She had two assists in 30 games.

“Ice hockey is definitely my first love but I had the opportunity to play field hockey here and I’m making the most of it,” said Provencal. “I’m very grateful to have been able to play both sports at the collegiate level.

“Everything has worked out really well. I’ve had great coaches at both schools,” she added.

Her playoff run began with a seven-save outing in a 3-1 victory over Colby-Sawyer in the North Atlantic Conference semifinals and she then notched eight saves in the 3-2 victory over the University of Maine-Farmington in the title game. She came up with two more saves in an 8-2 win over Keuka in the NAC/NEAC crossover championship game.

Provencal serves as a co-captain with her former Skowhegan field hockey teammate Mikayla Toth, who scored the goal that beat Babson.

“It has been a joy to play with her,” said Toth. “My high school coach (Paula Doughty) said her best athletes were always her goalies.

“She’s very quick and agile. She has good hand-eye coordination. She knows when to go down, when to step up and when to come out. She’s really smart on the field,” said Toth.

She also said Provencal has an “uplifting” attitude.

“She always has a real positive attitude,” said Toth. “Being a co-captain with her has been cool. We’ve built off each other. It has been really fun.”

First-year coach Sabrina (Vaillancourt) Smith said she is honored to have a goalkeeper like Provencal.

“She is very skilled, she’s smart and she’s a great leader,” said Smith. “She’s a natural athlete. She’s a natural in the cage.”

Provencal enjoyed her time at USM but said Husson “is like home. I love Husson.

“I like the campus and I like my major (occupational therapy). Field hockey was another factor (in the decision to transfer),” said Provencal.

She has been happy with her season.

“Being a senior captain and a senior goalkeeper, there is definitely a lot of weight on my shoulders,” she said. “But I think I’ve performed well under pressure. It’s a team sport and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. It has been a great year.”

Provencal takes a 2.19 goals-against average and a .810 save percentage into the Rochester game. Husson’s leading scorers are Saco senior Lauren Russell (12 goals, 7 assists), sophomore Sadie Royer of Greene (12 & 6), senior Taylor Shaw of Plymouth (14 & 0), Toth (6 & 4) and Dover-Foxcroft freshman Alli Bourget (5 & 3).

The Eagles face a Rochester team that has a 20-goal scorer in Claire Dickerson and a nine-goal scorer in Nancy Bansbach.

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