WALES — The Oak Hill field hockey team knew it had something special when camp opened in August.
The Raiders set lofty goals, and have chipped away at achieving them.
A byproduct of the team’s success — or perhaps it’s the other way around — Hayley Marshall also had a season to remember. Fifteen times the speedy senior found the back of the cage. On 18 other occasions, she fed a teammate with an identical result.
“She’s both a great offensive and defensive player,” Oak Hill coach Betsy Gilbert said. “She can read the ball, she can dribble the ball, she has the stick speed and foot speed to dodge defenders and keep going, and she’s so unselfish. Her teammates can sprint down the field and she can find them on a long hit.”
It would be easy to at least partially dismiss Gilbert’s assessment given her obvious partiality.
But the rest of the conference’s coaches appear to agree. Marshall is the 2014 Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year.
“I was a little shocked for sure,” Marshall said. “I used to see, as a freshman, I’d see the all-conference list in the paper and I knew I wanted to be among those top players someday. To know I got there, it’s an amazing feeling.”
“She was shocked, but we weren’t,” Gilbert said. “She earned it.”
Marshall’s ascent didn’t come overnight, nor was it an easy road.
“The top players are the top players because they’re dedicated,” Gilbert said. “Hayley really has dedicated herself to the game. She’s worked extremely hard, she’s been so dedicated, and to be noticed by the other coaches in the league as well, it’s icing on the cake.”
Marshall has been a linchpin for the Raiders (13-0-1) in the middle of the field, able to set teammates up with the ball, use her speed to back down defenders, and rocket shots toward the cage from the top of the circle.
“I guess I just do my best to try and help make plays happen,” Marshall said. “I try to get the passing going in the middle. It’s just a great feeling to be able to spend senior year around so many great teammates. It’s been great so far.”
“So far,” because the Raiders are still working on their top goal.
“We started the season, we wanted to have an undefeated regular season, and we got there,” Marshall said. “Of course our big goal is states.”
Oak Hill begins its quest for a Class C state title Saturday against No. 8 Mountain Valley. The Raiders would host either No. 4 NYA or No. 5 Sacopee Valley in a regional semifinal, and then face whichever team remains from the other half of the bracket on a neutral field in Scarborough.
Whenever Oak Hill’s run ends, Marshall will still have plenty to look forward to. She will travel with the Maine Majestix to the National Festival in California. And she’s going to try her hand at playing in college.
“I definitely want to play in college,” Marshall said. “I’m not sure where yet, but I definitely want to play.”
Marshall wasn’t the only Oak Hill player honored by the MVC coaches this season. Kayla Veilleux and Sadie Goulet also made the first team. Danielle Samson, Kylee Veilleux and Heather Hannigan were selected to the second team, while honorable mentions went to Erica Hannigan and Brooke Surette.
Several other area athletes made the MVC teams, as well. Lisbon’s Arianna Kahler, Molly Nicholson and Allison Bubar all made the first team, as well, along with Mountain Valley’s Lexy Duguay, Taylor Bergeron of St. Dom’s, Katie Merrill of Telstar, Katriona Hajduk of Winthrop and Ellen Wainwright of Dirigo.
Joining the three Oak Hill starters on the second team were Morgan Morrow and Emma Lueders of Dirigo, Mya Durgin and MaKayla Bedell of Lisbon, Becca Howard of Telstar, Jessica Boulet of St. Dom’s and Megan Chamberlain of Winthrop.
Honorable mentions went to Corinna Coulton and Sarah Spahr of Winthrop, Courtney Lawrence and Chase Collier of Lisbon, Lauren Henderson and Kaitlyn Radcliffe of Dirigo, Callie Samson and Emma Samson of St. Dom’s, Liza White and Kassie Thibodeau of Mountain Valley, and Sadie Ellsworth and Hayley Peterson of Telstar.