University of Maine field hockey player Sydney Meader handles the ball during a September 2021 game against Harvard. Credit: Seth Poplaski / UMaine Athletics

The University of Maine’s surging field hockey team could clinch the top seed among America East’s six eastern schools on Friday.

The Black Bears invade the University of Vermont looking for their ninth straight win. A UMaine win — coupled with an Albany loss at UMass Lowell — would supply UMaine with the host bid right to host the six-team America East tournament

Both games start at 2 p.m.

In addition to the six eastern schools, the league also includes three California schools in defending two-time tournament champ Stanford, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Davis.

Stanford has won four of the last five tournaments.

However, the highest-seeded eastern school will serve as the host.

UMaine is currently 5-0 in the conference with Albany and California at 3-1, Monmouth at 2-2, Vermont and Stanford at 2-3, UMass Lowell and New Hampshire at 1-3 and UC Davis at 1-4.

UMaine owns the tiebreaker vs. Albany and Monmouth since it beat both earlier this season, 2-1 and 5-3, respectively.

UMaine has league contests left with UMass Lowell at home and New Hampshire on the road. The Black Bears also play Bryant and Dartmouth in non-conference games.

Two wins in its last three league games will give UMaine the top spot in the east no matter what anyone else does. 

Maine, ranked 25th in the country in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll for the second straight week, and Vermont are both 9-5 overall coming into the game.

During its eight-game winning streak, UMaine has outscored its opponents 30-10. Sophomore Poppy Lambert has scored eight goals during the streak with three being game-winners. Chloe Walton has seven goals and three assists, Old Town’s Brooke Sulinski has five goals and two assists, Hana Davis has four goals and an assist, and Boothbay Harbor’s Sydney Meader has three goals and three assists with two of the goals being game-winners.

Pittsfield’s Madisyn Hartley has produced a goal and nine assists during the streak and Brittany Smith has six assists. Hartley and Smith have each assisted on two game-winners.

Lambert now has 10 goals on the season, which is the most in the conference and sixth-best in the country. Hartley leads America East in assists with nine, and that is 12th-most in the nation.

Sulinski has nine goals and two assists, Walton has 7 & 4, Meader has 5 & 4 and Davis has 6 & 1.

Former America East Defender of the Year Cassandra Mascarenhas continues to anchor the defense in front of goalkeeper Mia Borley (1.92 goals-against average, .730 save percentage).

The Catamounts feature Clodagh Ferry (8 goals, 2 assists), Alina Gerke (7 & 1), Kate Hall (3 & 9), Puck Kwaspen (1 & 9) and Sophia Drees (4 & 2). Gerke and Drees are freshmen from Germany. Goalkeeper Sierra Espeland has a 1.58 GAA and a .761 save percentage.