Spruce Mountain’s Ashlyn Williams takes a swing at the ball as Mountain Valley’s Courtney Carrier gets a stick in her path during a field hockey game in Jay last month. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

JAY — The Spruce Mountain field hockey team is fast, and it has the records to prove it.

Many of the players are also members of the outdoor track and field team, and even hold school records. Avery and Ashlyn Williams were part of the 4×100-meter relay team that ran a Spruce Mountain-best 51.82-second race at the 2017 Class B state championships. Also at that meet, Emily White’s time of 8:05.89 set a new school mark in the 1,600-meter race walk.

At the 2016 state championships, Avery Williams set school records in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Ashlyn, meanwhile, set the 300-meter hurdles record at that meet.

Also on the track team are Isabelle Castonguay and Aurianna Armandi.

“I think it’s good we keep doing sports that help with our other sports,” Ashlyn Williams said. “That’s why I like doing track, to (prepare) for field hockey and cheering, just to keep in shape for everything.”

The Phoenix will try for more state championship glory when they face Winthrop in the Class C field hockey championship Saturday.

Spruce Mountain coach Jane Dipompo said she didn’t recruit from the track and field team, the players just happen to have grown up doing both.

All the speed made DiPompo change her strategy to take the biggest skill the Phoenix possess and apply it to positions where teams don’t usually have much speed.

“Erin McPherson, for example, she’s fast, she’s so elegant, she’s a natural wing,” DiPompo, who also is a Spruce Mountain track and field coach, said. “I have so many fast people, I took her and put at the sweep (position). Now I got this super-fast person who has good stick work who can stay up with the opponent’s front line’s fast players. A lot of teams don’t expect that from a sweeper. It’s an extra advantage I got, and when I need her I can put someone else in for her — I can put her up on the front line to add more speed.”

The speed has allowed the Phoenix to make long passes downfield and let the forwards chase the ball down.

“I think we value our hit-and-runs a lot, because with our whole front line, in having Emily Castonguay, Aurianna Armandi, Avery Williams and all them up there, they are just so fast hitting and running (that we’ve) been able to pass by all the (defenders),” White said. “We have been able to get out and run the sidelines, basically.”

DiPompo likes the element of surprise when the Phoenix face a new opponent, especially during the playoffs as they did in the regional quarterfinals against North Yarmouth Academy and the semifinals against St. Dominic Academy. Both of those teams play in the Western Maine Conference, while Spruce Mountain plays in the Mountain Valley Conference.

In the Class C state championship, Spruce Mountain won’t have that luxury because it will be facing fellow MVC opponent Winthrop, the C North champion. The Ramblers won’t be surprised by the Phoenix’s speed because they’ve faced it twice already this season.

The teams will meet Saturday at Deering’s Memorial Field in Portland at 1 p.m.

Winthrop likes to play a ball-control game, which slows the pace down. This week, DiPompo has been putting a restrictor plate on her players to prepare for that type of game.

“We are trying not to be so aggressive in a way that will put us behind,” DiPompo said. “(We) are talking about break-down steps, we are talking about keeping our sticks down and making sure we have two hands on the stick.”

The Phoenix will be looking for their first state championship since Jay and Livermore Falls consolidated to one school. Jay High School won the Class C title in 1980 and 1999. Livermore Falls won the first Class C championship in 1976.

The Spruce Mountain players understand that maybe they can’t go all out all the time against the Ramblers, but they still believe they can still use their biggest asset to their advantage and not allow Winthrop to slow the ball down too much on the artificial turf.

“I think our speed on the field will help us get an advantage because getting down the field will really help,” Avery Williams said. “It depends how well we get down the field. We just need to focus on those skills.”

Spruce Mountain’s Emily Castonguay celebrates after scoring against Mountain Valley during the Class C South field hockey final last week in Biddeford. (Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald)


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