WATERVILLE — Following a field hockey season dominated by teams and athletes from central Maine, it was fitting, perhaps, that the celebration of that season — and a bridge of sorts to the next — took place here.

Thomas College played host Saturday to this year’s 2023 McNally Senior All-Star Game and Maine Field Hockey Association Festival. Local players and coaches, both departing and returning, were well-represented as Waterville became the state’s field hockey hub for a day.

“So many of the teams in this area just have great field hockey traditions,” said Winslow head coach Mary Beth Burgoin. “You have teams like Skowhegan, you have teams like Winthrop — you just have a lot of teams that have great feeder programs and girls that stick with the sport. It’s great we could do it here.”

Central Maine had a complete sweep of November’s state championships with Skowhegan winning in Class A, Lawrence taking Class B and Winthrop prevailing in Class C. It was the first time teams from the area won state titles in all three classes after winning two of three 19 times.

Add in Maine Central Institute, and the region produced four of the state’s six regional champions in 2022. Take the locations of those four schools, and you’d end up with a midpoint somewhere just west of Fairfield, making Thomas a sensible venue for a celebration of the sport. 

“It helps when you’re so close to a facility like this,” said Lawrence head coach Shawna Robinson. “I think the area is a hotbed of talent, for sure. Everyone around here looks at the top teams, especially Skowhegan, and says, ‘You know, we’d like to be that caliber of a team year in and year out.’”


Robinson coached the North All-Star team along with Skowhegan’s Paula Doughty and MCI’s Terri Jean Wilkinson. Winthrop’s Sharon Coulton, who retired in December after leading the Ramblers to their fifth state title, coached the South along with Cheverus’ Theresa Arsenault and Freeport’s Marcia Wood.

North goalie Cassidy Clark (97) of Gardiner makes a save on a shot by the South’s Samantha Goodwin (8) of Piscataquis during Saturday’s McNally Senior All-Star Game at Thomas College in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Senti

Although the game finished scoreless, it didn’t come without some key plays from area players. Miss Maine Field Hockey winner Hope Bouchard of Lawrence was active for the North in the midfield, and goalies Cassidy Clark of Gardiner and Lainey Bell of Winslow made crucial saves with the latter being named the North’s MVP.

“It was very rewarding, I think, to see her get that kind of recognition and attention,” Burgoin said of Bell. “She had a great year for us. We didn’t win many games this season, but it was because of her that we were able to be in those games and give ourselves a chance.”

Before and after the All-Star Game at noon, returning players also took part in a day-long play day of sorts with three games taking place on each of the two turf fields simultaneously. For those players, the preparations for the 2023 season began with summer workouts soon to come ahead of the fall season.

“It’s tough for a team like us that loses a lot of seniors, but it’s all about growing our bonds and forming chemistry, and that’s why days like today are important,” said Lawrence’s Maddie Niles. “It’s exciting when you see new players step in and start to succeed for you.”

The action Saturday suggests what could be another big season for local field hockey in 2023. Niles, an all-state player as a sophomore last year, dazzled as she scored goals left and right in mini-games. Skowhegan brought enough players to field two full times, and Waterville, which did not field a team in 2022, re-entered the fray.

“You’re seeing a lot of enthusiasm for the sport right now,” Bourgoin said. “There’s a lot of girls who want to go out and play, and days like today are an opportunity for them to work on their skills but, more importantly, have fun.”

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