With the rain washing out the field hockey state championships from this past weekend to this upcoming Saturday, it gave teams an extra week to prepare for their biggest games of the season.

So how are Winthrop and Spruce Mountain — the Class C finalists — handling it? They both would rather have played this past weekend.

“We are taking it day by day, I was hoping we would play (last Friday),” Winthrop coach Jessica Merrill said last Thursday. “If don’t play on (Saturday) we will be pretty specific on what we are working on. We aren’t going to keep them on (the field) for long. We have a goal in mind. We are going to work on our corners to make sure those are on point going forward. We had opportunities (last Wednesday in the Northern Maine regional final) that we didn’t take care of. It’s something we are going to focus on.”

Spruce Mountain — the Southern Maine champion — was also ready to go this past weekend and continue to ride the high of the regional championships.

“We were on an upswing going into (the state championship),” Spruce Mountain coach Jane DiPompo said on Monday. “We thought we had two days and now we got a week, what are we going to do? We talked about what they can do and how we have to overcome that. We have to make sure we practice hard, we encourage each other and stay positive.”

The common theme between the two teams is it gives them both each more time to get used to the turf. They will meet on the field turf at Deering High School’s Memorial Stadium in Portland on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Spruce Mountain is using the Phoenix Dome on the Jay campus to practice on, as DiPompo said it simulates turf well by getting rid of most of the bounces. The team was in the Phoenix Dome on Monday because of the weather. Although they don’t just practice in the gym when the weather is bad, they will practice in there on sunny days, especially if they know they have a turf game coming up.

“I think practicing indoors really helps playing on turf because the floor is as easy to glide (the ball) like field turf does,” senior Avery Williams said. “I think it will get us ready for Saturday.”

Last Thursday, the Ramblers practiced at their adopted home, Kents Hill School in Readfield, where the athletic complex has turf. Since the start of the playoffs, the Ramblers have been road warriors, so to speak, as they haven’t played a home game at Kelsey Ann Stoneton Memorial Field — which is a natural grass field and sits on campus — despite being the No. 1 seed in Class C North.

They opened the playoffs at Lewiston High School’s new turf field, where they defeated Boothbay 5-1 in the regional quarterfinals. In the regional semifinals, they hosted Orono at Kents Hill, where they earned a 4-0 shutout. In the regional final, they went up to Thomas College, which was the designated neutral site for all three Northern Maine regional finals last Wednesday.

For the players, they welcomed playing on turf throughout the postseason.

“We knew our (home) field isn’t really the greatest,” Winthrop’s Moriah Hajduk said. “We know we are a really strong turf team. We knew once we got to the playoffs we really wanted to get as much turf time as possible. It has worked out for us because now we have been having so much time on turf we know what we need to do.”

Before practice officially started on Monday, Spruce Mountain kept things fun with a little game of ping-pong, as there was a ping-pong table on the side of the basketball court.

“I think just us getting out of the practice mode brings us together as friends,” Williams said. “I think you need relationships like that on the team, it really can bring the team together on the field.”

For Winthrop’s Kate Perkins, the one good thing about an extra week is you get to spend more time with your teammates on the field.

“Especially as a senior, you realize how important these last practices and last games really are to you, and as a team how important where we want to get,” Perkins said. 

Spruce Mountain goalie Melissa Bamford dives for a loose ball as teammate Harmony Castonguay tries to stop Winthrop’s Maddie Perkins from getting a stick on the ball during a game during the regular season. Winthrop scored on the play. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Winthrop’s Moriah Hajduk , left and Spruce Mountain’s Auri Armandi battle for a loose ball during a regular season game in Winthrop earlier this year. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)


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