Oceanside prepares for inaugural varsity campaignAfter two years as club team, Mariners psyched to face higher competition
Thomaston — After cutting their teeth at the club/jayvee level for two years, Oceanside High School girls lacrosse student-athletes are ready — and quite eager — to face another challenge, and test, as they prepare for full-fledged varsity status for the 2014 spring season.
The Mariners, led by coach Angie Vachon, who also spearheaded getting the program off the ground several years ago, is excited by the next stage in the program's development.
Regional School Unit 13 athletic director Jim Leonard said Oceanside will compete in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and are placed in Eastern Class B. "They are playoff eligible in the conference, region and state level this season," he said.
"I am happy for this group of girls," Leonard said. "They have worked hard to get this sport off the ground here through fundraising, youth clinics and community outreach. They have had two very competitive seasons at the club level and we're all looking forward to their first season at full varsity status."
Vachon said the team will play some of the same opponents it faced at the club level, only now will meet the varsity teams from those schools, such as Gardiner, Mountain Valley of Rumford, Camden Hills, Fryeburg Academy, Lincoln Academy of Newcastle, Morse of Bath and Westbrook.
"Our season will be shorter and basically encompasses just the month of May," Vachon said. "I look forward to our crossover games: playing teams we have not seen before, even in our past postseason play. We, of course now qualify to earn a spot in the playoff games … and are excited for that."
The coach said if the Mariners have enough student-athletes to field a jayvee team, that squad will play a few separate games. She said there are a few more schools, Erskine Academy of South China, Oxford Hills of South Paris, Lawrence of Fairfield and Winslow, for example, which are still club teams.
"Now having a varsity team it does change my outlook a bit," the coach said. "We have a few goals for the team and the girls know what they are and they are certainly attainable. It is my personal goal to make this a memorable season for our seniors who started as sophomores and solidify another level of our foundation to rock the KVAC for this year and 2015 ... that will be the fourth and final year of play for our girls [who] started as freshman our very first season.
"As coach, I will be bringing forward a few of our traditions from our club years, ones I believe the girls will appreciate and I hope that they start one of their own this season, no matter what that may be: a special cheer, a team bonding pregame ritual ... I will leave that up to them.
"I most certainly feel that I have to raise my game as a coach for the varsity level of play and have been taking steps to that end over the winter. We as a team will use this first varsity season as a bit of a learning one to get used to the higher level of play and it will be great to see the girls step up to that. I do know and have made the team aware at our team meeting recently that the umpires officiating a varsity game will not explain game situations and proper play as they did in club/jayvee contests, so the girls too, will have to be more attuned to the rules and aware of a more fast-paced game."
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Ken Waltz has been member of the media 30 years and has received hundreds of Maine Press Association and New England Press Association awards for his writing, photography and page design. He studied journalism at the University of Maine in Orono. He lives in South Thomaston with his wife, Sarah. The couple has an adult son, Brandon.
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