Playoff hopes alive: Mariners notch late-season win over EaglesOceanside welcomes back graduate Ward, now coach at Lincoln Academy
Rockland — The Oceanside high school field hockey team welcomed back former Mariner standout Allison Ward, now the first-year coach at Lincoln Academy of Newcastle, with open arms, lots of hugs, laughs, flowers and a visit from old friends and teachers.
The Mariners certainly proved gracious hosts for one of their own on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 6, but, when the game began they got down to business as Oceanside dominated the visiting Eagles en route to a 5-1 late-season victory.
The young Mariners and inexperienced Eagles both had their moments of success on the field Thursday, but Oceanside overall had the better of play as the hosts kept their slim regional playoff hopes alive.
Watch video from game and Allison Ward's pregame ceremony appear below.
With one game remaining in their regular season, the Mariners continue to battle for one of the final playoff spots. Erskine Academy of South China holds the 10th and final spot by the slimmest of margins over Oceanside, but that could change.
In the Maine Principals' Association Heal Point Standings for Class B North, Oceanside (3-8-2, 16.9388 points) is 11th, while Gardiner (13-0, 143.6224 points) is first in the 14-team region. The top 10 teams qualify for the playoffs.
A win over point-worthy Leavitt on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at home in their season finale might buy the Mariners a ticket to the postseason.
In a gesture of respect and understanding of another's situation, the Mariners, on Thursday, under the direction of veteran coach Joanna Hall, Ward's former mentor with Rockland District High School and Oceanside, often did not attack at full strength and usually kept defensive players back in their half of the field.
Ward is the new architect of Lincoln Academy's growing, improving program. She coaches the Eagle varsity and jayvee squads.
Ward said she appreciated the surprise ceremony, and overall gesture, on her return to her alma mater and former field hockey stomping grounds.
As players from the teams gathered, Ward's former "teachers who inspired her" welcomed her home. "She is a great gal," Hall said of Ward.
"It was pretty cool," Ward said of the ceremony. "I wasn't really expecting anything, but I thought it would be kind of different coming back here to coach. It was kind of a surreal feeling coming in seeing coach Hall and then coaching along side her was pretty cool. It was pretty special."
Ward said she remembers fondly her days playing on the same field. "Playing for Rockland and then Oceanside and seeing how far they have come is pretty cool," she said.
"Allison was such a wonderful student-athlete during her high school years and was so very much involved in everything from the math team, to theater, sports, student government, and Key Club," Hall said. "Allison was also very involved as a peer helper in the life skills program. We are very proud of Allison and excited to see her in this new role as a teacher and a coach.
"It was so nice to see so many of Allison's teachers come up to the field before, during, and after the game. We just wanted to make her return to Oceanside special and show her and her team what high regard we have for her. Lincoln Academy is very lucky to have Allison on board. From what I saw today I think her players agree."
In the game, the Mariners were led offensively by Ainsley Meklin with two goals and an assist, while Erin Dugan added a goal and two assists. Madelyn Young and Amanda Frost chipped in goals and Julia Bartlett and Alexis Mazurek assists.
Oceanside led 4-1 at halftime, scoring at the 23:41-, 18:00- and 16:45-minute marks, and with 33 seconds remaining, in the first half. The hosts also scored with 16:31 left in the second half.
Brianna Farrin scored, on an assist from Katie Moore, for Lincoln Academy.
Jazzmin Johnson played in the cage for the Mariners and Lauren Benner in goal for the Eagles.
Lincoln Academy (1-12) also is 11th in Class B South. The Eagles, who beat Maranacook of Readfield 1-0 for their only victory of the fall, have been outscored 99-4 and shut out nine times.
In fact, the Eagles have suffered 16-1, 12-0, 11-0, 9-0 and 8-0 losses this season, but have kept their heads held high and sticks on the ground for first-year coach Ward as they work to grow on and off the field.
"We have seen a lot of improvement throughout the year," said Ward, who finished with 14 goals and 10 assists during her high school career and 19 goals and six assists playing for the University of Southern Maine. "All my jayvee players have never played before. So that is a pretty big learning curve getting them back up to speed and learning how to play the game."
While it sometimes can be frustrating to build a program literally from scratch, Ward said "it is fun because you get to see how much they learn from you and that is pretty cool."
There is daily, tangible feedback on how the team progresses, she said.
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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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