Leavitt’s Keriah Marston battles for the ball with Cape Elizabeth’s Zofia Leary-Forrey during the Class B South championship Wednesday at Freeport High School. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald

Keriah Marston and her, mom Cathy, fulfilled a commitment they made nearly a decade ago that should the Leavitt field hockey team win another state championship, they would rush into each others arms — again — to celebrate the victory.

Way back in 2012, Cathy Marston was an assistant coach for Hornets coach Wanda Ward-MacLean and Keriah was an 8-year-old raised on the sport of field hockey. Keriah and Cathy embraced after the Hornets grabbed the state title that year and they later vowed to indulge in a long, celebratory hug again.

“So 2012 when I was 8 (and) when we won and she was the coach. I remember no one was allowed on the field, but I didn’t care, clearly,” Keriah said. “I sprinted and ran into her arms. It was just one of those moments like you always remember and I said, ‘If we do it again … we have to (hug) again.’”

Nine years later, the senior helped Leavitt beat Old Town 1-0 in the Class B state championship game Saturday, and mom and daughter re-enacted the celebratory embrace.

“So the first thing I did was look for her when the final buzzer went off and I just ran into her arms,” Keriah said. “She worked way down out of the crowd, like right on the edge of the fence. I was like, ‘You have to make it easily accessible for me.’”

Cathy said that celebratory embrace was “a longtime coming” for daughter and mom.

“She planned it,” Cathy said of her daughter. “She said, ‘Wouldn’t that be awesome if we won states and you could probably run into my arms. I said, ‘I don’t think I trust you enough to pick me up. We didn’t even think about it as it happened. She just jumped in my arms again.”

Keriah said she would have liked to have seen her mother still coaching on the sidelines, but it all worked out in the end for both of them. Keriah said she appreciates having a mom who is also passionate about field hockey.

“I started when I was 4,” Keriah said. “I don’t think I would have gone into it or would have been passionate about it if I didn’t grow up with it. She started coaching us probably like when (we were) 5 or 6 (years old with) a core group of girls all the way up to until eighth-grade year at middle school.”

Leavitt’s Keriah Marston lifts a pass to an open spot in the field during an October field hockey game against Edward Little in Turner. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The euphoria of collecting the 2021 state title has not worn off, yet.

“It still definitely does not feel real, yet,” Keriah said Sunday night. “It feels pretty good, but I never doubted our team’s ability that we could do it. I do know that the fifth seed really means nothing once you enter the playoffs.”

The Hornets won the Class B South title after entering the playoffs as the region’s fifth seed. Their path to the state title game included wins over 12th-seeded Lincoln Academy, No. 4 Fryeburg, top-seeded and undefeated York and then No. 2 Cape Elizabeth in the regional final.

“We wanted to prove ourselves who we really were,” Keriah said. “When we beat York, that was like winning states. That is a pretty close second. We knew they were going to be one of the hardest competitions in the playoffs. We got more confident and kept on going.”

Cathy Marston has been coaching field hockey in the area for years and knows the Hornets players well.

“I had a lot of these kids that played since they were 5 years old,” Cathy said. “I’ve been coaching the youth program and high school and middle school, so to be able see them accomplish that, it was pretty amazing having my daughter being a part of that and is just icing on the cake.

“It is still so surreal to me to be honest with you. My little girl has been on the field with me since she, gosh, knee high. Being a Hornet and being that part of the community and that team means a lot more to her.

“To have her accomplish that and have that dream ever since we won it in 2012, there is just really no words. She is just beside herself. You have this dream and these players talked about for years and years.”

After going around and around on the coaching carousel, Cathy decided to slow down to watch her daughter’s field hockey exploits at the high school.

“When (Keriah) got into high school, I was like, ‘Well, maybe I will just be a mom because I have been coaching for 16 years,” Cathy said. “I am going to say that it is the hardest thing I have ever done not being a part of them and not being a part of that. To be on that sideline with them, they are like my babies. They are friends with my daughter. They have grown up together; they spent lots of time at my home.”

“(Cathy) played for me and then coached for me and now she just watches her kid,” Ward-MacLean said. 

Ward-MacLean added that all her players contributed to Leavitt’s rise to the top, including Keriah, a midfielder. 

“Every kid that played for me was important,” she said. “Keriah scored the winning goal against York for us.”

Like the Marstons, Ward-MacLean is still wrapped up in the euphoria of Leavitt’s march to compete in the state championship.

“It is like, what am I going to do tomorrow?” she said. “There is no practice. Last week was a long week because the York game was postponed from Friday to Monday. We went all the way down to York and then we had one practice and then we went to Freeport to play Cape Elizabeth and then two practices and then the state game. So it was three games in six days. That is a lot of playing.”

But all three know the long bus rides to the top were worth it.

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