By Mike Zhe firstname.lastname@example.org For Pictures go to: http://www.seacoastonline.com/sports/20170613/hawks-embracing-underdog-role-entering-regional-final
Marshwood’s Paige Singer, back, battles for a ground ball against Thornton’s Adeline Paradis during Saturday’s regional semifinal game in South Berwick, Maine. Mike Whaley/Fosters.com
SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — In recent years, the almost annual battle between girls lacrosse teams from Marshwood High School and Massabesic has been a highlight of the Class A tournament.
Four times since 2012, the two programs have met in the regional championship or semifinals, with those four games being decided by a total of seven goals.
This year, there was little doubt that top-seeded Massabesic (14-0) would claim a spot in the Class A South final, which it did after running the table in the regular season, and then outclassing its quarterfinal and semifinal opponents.
But the second-seeded Hawks (11-3) are there, too, after two months of changing things on the fly.
“The girls have been working incredibly hard in games and practices,” said Marshwood coach Bernie Marvin. “With the new roles that a lot of these kids have, and the toughness and resilience they’ve shown, I’m very impressed.”
The two June rivals will meet for the fifth time in six postseasons in the Class A South championship Wednesday (5:30 p.m.) at the Massabesic turf field in Waterboro. The winner advances to Saturday’s state championship game at Fitzpatrick Stadium to take on either Messalonskee or Windham.
The Hawks, who were undermanned when they lost to Massabesic, 9-3, in the first week of the season back in April, acknowledge they’re the underdogs, with the smaller margin for error against a team that’s averaging 12.8 goals a game behind standout players like Maddie Drain.
“We have to come out strong,” said Marvin. “We can’t get behind to these guys, can’t have unforced turnovers. For us it’s going to be the draws and the ground balls. We’ve got to come up with our fair share.”
Where the Hawks have been good is defensively (5.0 goals per game allowed), despite returning just one starter in junior Chloe Shields. Isabelle Ury, Celine Lawrence and Makenna Janes have stepped into starting roles, and Skyler Amsden (69 percent saves) has been an asset in net.
“We’re a defense-first type of team,” said Marvin, “and these girls are playing very well.”
The midfield is also a strength, behind senior captains Reagan Nichols (31 goals, 52 points), Luci Albers (24 goals, 42 points) and converted defender Paige Singer (28 points). Nichols and Albers are continuing their careers at Division II colleges at AIC and SNHU, respectively.
It’s the attack that’s been the biggest work in progress. Minus last year’s leading scorer, Hannah Costin, who left the team for school-related issues last month, it’s been practically a brand-new group from what began the season.
Marin Smith (29-10-39) has led the way after overcoming an early-season injury. Zoe Janetos also missed games early, and two freshmen, Ruby Albers and Olivia Melton, have seen their roles increase.
The Hawks were slated to practice at Portsmouth High School on Tuesday night to simulate the turf they’ll be on Wednesday.