St Dominic’s Julianne Cook emerges from a sea of white to slip the ball past Gray-New Gloucester’s Lexi Hutchings during Wednesday’s field hockey game in Gray. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

GRAY — St. Dom’s field hockey coach Abigail Bowie calls Julianne Cook the distributor.

The senior forward’s handiwork was all over the Saints’ four goals during their 2021 season opener against Gray-New Gloucester on Wednesday. The senior scored a goal and assisted on the other three in St. Dom’s 4-0 win over Gray-NG.

“I have been playing forward since my sophomore year,” Cook said. “So I try to work it around and help the girls out with their goals. We all work as a team, obviously. It is a team effort, for sure.”

Cook’s motivation also came from setting her sights on the playoffs.

“It was the first time that we could really get out there after last year when we had no playoffs,” she said. “So being a senior and having that ability to go to the playoffs this year was really pushing me forward to get those goals.” 

Bowie said Cook is the Saints’ go-to player on offense, and when she doesn’t score, she gets the ball to teammates who can slip the ball in the net.

“She is one of our really awesome players and she is a really good distributor,” Bowie said. “In our lineup, we have a high forward and she is on that forward line. We use her for distributing — and she gets on the board herself.”

Wednesday’ game was head coach Jessica’s Merrill’s debut for the Patriots after leaving Winthrop High School, where she led the Ramblers to the 2018 Class C state championship and state title game berths in three consecutive seasons (2017-2019).

Merrill said that she wasn’t disappointed with her team’s performance, even though it was frustrating for the Patriots to remain scoreless.

Gray-New Gloucester’s Jocelyn Cook, right, and goalie Lorenza Piper (99) attempt to defend the goal against St. Dominic’s Abbie Mitchell during Wednesday’s field hockey game in Gray. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

“They are young and inexperienced, so getting them to feel that intensity for four quarters took a while,” Merrill said. “(The Saints) didn’t score in the second quarter and (they didn’t) score in the fourth quarter so there was lots of positives.

“We are there. Once we start hitting stuff, we will be a lot more competitive. They are learning, and we take giant steps forward everyday.” 

While the Patriots were finding their footing in the opening quarter, the Saints wasted little time getting on the scoreboard.

Cook set up Lorelei Bonnie for St. Dom’s first goal, and then Cook followed with goal on an Emily Andrews assist, providing the Saints with a 2-0 advantage. Andrews scored the first of her two goals with Cook’s assistance as the Saints opened a 3-0 lead heading into the second quarter.

Andrews, a freshman, said her fine performance might have been inspired by the Saints’ enthusiasm.

Gray-New Gloucester’s Jocelyn Cook and St. Dominic’s Julianne Cook battle for control of the ball during Wednesday’s field hockey game in Gray. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

“I am not sure,” she said. “I think it was the adrenaline and all the team spirit. This is my first year playing high school field hockey … and I just think all the hype before the game and the hype during the game … really helped out.”

The Patriots appeared to shake off any opening-day jitters and their offense suddenly came alive for the next three quarters, but getting the ball in the net proved futile. At that point, St. Dom’s had its hands full. But Andrews’ scored her second goal on Cook’s third assist in the third quarter to put the Saints out in front, 4-0.

“One of our things that we like to do is play St. Dom’s field hockey,” Bowie said. “That’s what I kind of told them at the beginning. I said, ‘We are going to come out strong and stay strong.’

“In the past couple of years … we settle into the game late, so I am very proud that they kind of came out strong and maintained that level of play for the whole game.”

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