Things were a bit dicey early on for the Oxford Hills girls.
With a host of new faces and an unknown skill set, coach Sarah Proulx played things cautiously, placing her experienced veterans in positions meant to maximize defending the better players from opposing teams, and letting offense generate itself.
But, pleasantly, younger players started stepping forward into prominent defensive roles.
“I was stacking the ‘D’ with stronger girls,” Proulx said, “and laving nothing for the attack. We are stronger now, the speed of play has picked up, as well as the passing and transition. I made the change on Friday (a win against Bonny Eagle), and it has made all the difference.”
That win — in overtime — against Bonny Eagle appears to have been the signature, springboard-type game the Vikings were looking for.
“We finally came together as a team in that game,” Proulx said. “I had to put faith in the younger girls to step up and play some big roles, so I could put our experienced players where they really belong. The defense consisted mostly of sophomores, so I could put the core girls into positions around the circle. The whole team was excited to see the younger girls step up.”
Leading the charge for the Vikings’ youth movement on the back end is Jillian Jacobs.
“She’s gained the trust of her teammates back there,” Proulx said. “She’s the defensive leader out there right now. Her heart is in it, she has the defensive pride that we talk about, and the dedication. We talk about that a lot, because so many players dread that position.”
Lacey Landry and Danielle Allen are also among the younger players making an impact on the defensive line for the Vikings.
Seeing plenty of action
Oxford Hills boys’ goalie Hunter Rowell has been used to seeing plent of action.
With one win this year and none in the 2009 campaign, the Vikings have leaned heavily on their now-senior keeper. And he’s been plenty up to the challenge.
Tuesday, he was aggressive in staring down the Edward Little onslaught early, several times stopping some good shot from in close.
On the Eddies’ only goal of the second half, he even slowed down a Tim Brodsky rocket from 20 feet with his forearm before it eventually wnet into the cage anyway. The shot left a mark, but Rowell kept on defending the net.
“He’s been a starter for us for three years now,” Oxford Hills coach Matt Brunsen said. “He’s a lefty, he’s very committed to the sport, and every offseason, he goes to a goalie camp. He’s come a long way.”
Rowell finished with 10 saves against EL, and he also forced several shots wide with an aggressive line.
“He’s got great reflexes, he’s very committed and he’s one of our captains, too,” Brunsen said.
Sportsmanship isn’t dead
It’s a dying breed, some say, but the Edward Little boys’ squad did something a bit rare on Tuesday.
After scoring four goals in the first quarter, and three more in the second, the Eddies, at the direction of coach Andy MacIsaac, took their foot off the gas pedal.
And he’s not ashamed to admit it.
“I just do not believe in 16-1 and 16-2 scores, I think it’s uncalled for,” MacIsaac said. “I can’t even imagine why any coach in high school in Maine would want to do that. I just don’t get that. I don’t think it does any good for anybody, for the losing team or for the winning team. We got to where we felt comfortable, and we started to working on things that needed work, and we started playing some of the players who don’t play a lot. That’s important, too, because we have to look to next year, and building the program.”
On the other side, the Vikings weren’t the least bit slighted by the move.
“He’s a good coach, and he doesn’t run up the score,” Brunsen said. “We appreciate that.”