Madisyn Hartley of the University of Maine has had an interesting introduction to Division I field hockey. The freshman from Pittsfield, who starred at Maine Central Institute, has been moved back to defense to help the Black Bears deal with injuries. Credit: Larry Mahoney

Madisyn Hartley was a dynamic midfielder and forward in high school for Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield.

Hartley, one of five Miss Maine Field Hockey finalists in 2018 after she produced 22 goals and 13 assists, finds herself in a new position at the University of Maine.

The freshman has been playing fullback after the injury bug bit UMaine’s back line. Head coach Josette Babineau moved Hartley back to defense, where she has started the last four games.

“I have never been a back before,” said Hartley, who racked up 54 goals and 23 assists in four seasons at MCI.

She led the Huskies to a Class C state title in 2015 and a Class B crown in 2017.

“It was difficult at first but having [goalkeeper Mia Borley] and the other backs like Cass [Cassandra Mascarenhas], Brit [Brittany Smith] and Morgan [Anson] tell me where to go, I feel like I’ve been able to understand more,” Hartley said. “With each game, I’ve progressed and know more where I’m supposed to be.”

Hartley, a three-time all-state player, said she has focused on being even-keeled in the back.

“I’ve tried to have a lot of composure and not freak out when I get the ball and turn it over,” she said. “I’ve tried to stay calm and look for a pass [to make].”

Babineau said Hartley has adapted well to playing defense.

“It isn’t her most ideal position but she is taking it on and has been using her skills. She is doing really well,” Babindeau said.

“She has been patient back there. And she has a real good head for the game,” Babineau said. “She is doing more than just progressing.”

Making the jump from Class B high school field hockey to a program that has been nationally ranked on a consistent basis in Division I in recent years requires a dramatic adjustment.

By her own admission, Hartley didn’t expect to see a lot of action this season.

She has now appeared in seven games for the 1-6 Black Bears and has averaged 41 minutes of playing time per game.

College field hockey games last 60 minutes.

“I’ve worked real hard in practice and I could see myself going in for a little bit, but I never thought I’d be starting and playing the whole game,” Hartley said.

Playing experience has helped her get settled down.

“When we first started, I was so nervous and scared. But once you start getting into games, it gives you a lot more confidence,” Hartley said.

She said her time spent as a fullback will prove beneficial when she moves back to the midfield or up to forward because she has been able to see the game from a different perspective.

“You’re able to see where the attackers fill the holes. You can see the whole field, so you learn where to send them with the ball,” Hartley explained.

The former Maine Majestix player said she already has learned a lot at UMaine and likes being a back now that she has adapted to it.

“I’m glad I’m playing. I don’t really care where I play,” Hartley said.

She said practicing every day with a talented group of teammates has been important in her development and has made the experience enjoyable.

Hartley said when UMaine gets its injured players back, it will provide a big boost going into America East Conference games.

The Black Bears host Merrimack College for a 1 p.m. non-conference game on Saturday. They entertain UMass Lowell on Friday, Oct. 4, in their league opener.