ISLESBORO — For as long as she can remember, Reagan Field literally and figuratively has been one with a soccer ball and she never stopped trying to prove to believers and skeptics this girl has game. Serious game.

In fact, the Islesboro Central School senior had dreams of playing Division I college ball and, while that does not appear, at this time, in her future, she has, indeed, played soccer at a high level throughout the country.

Islesboro’s Reagan Field plays in the regional title game with North Yarmouth Academy. Photo by Ken Waltz

That lofty level initially was with talented club/travel teams in Virginia before, at age 15, she moved to the coast of Maine and continued her education at a high school of about 30 students on an island in Penobscot Bay.

It is for the Eagles where she continued to excel on the pitch as she and teammates — from different athletic backgrounds and levels of play in the sport — surged like a wave to back-to-back Class D South championship game appearances.

And during her time playing for the Eagles, the Northport resident usually was the only girl on her team and often the only girl on the field as many opponents had only boys squads, even in the smallest class in the Pine Tree State.

None of that mattered to Field, who simply had a passion for soccer, developed at a young age, initially birthed in Virginia and nurtured in Maine and New Hampshire.

While mostly known for her tremendous all-around ball/foot skills, strong leg for accurate crosses into the box and overall defensive prowess, Field played soccer for Islesboro three years, albeit one during the pandemic when no official games against other schools were held.

Reagan Field. Photo courtesy of Melissa Burns

When finally able to get back to games against opponents the last two years, Field and her teammates finished with a 19-5 overall record, top few seeds in Class D South and back-to-back trips to the regional finals against North Yarmouth Academy. In that time, Field, although primarily a defender, had about five goals and 20 assists.

The 18-year-old said playing soccer against boys has not always been easy. She felt judged before they ever saw her play. Most of the time, those same boys, after games, let her know she certainly belonged.

The 5-foot 8-inch back always more than held her own against opponents — male or female.

“While being one of the only females on the team was a special experience, it was hard at times too,” she said. “I was heckled by the opposing team and their parents, and I was underestimated by others as well. Also, the referees didn’t always respect me. As for my team, they always saw me as an equal. I was treated with respect and I was a leader. Due to the fact that I was a girl, everyone already had their mind made up about my abilities as a female soccer player competing against boys. I found it very satisfying to prove them wrong.”

Voted as one of the team’s captains Field said she simply stepped on the pitch each day to improve her skills, forge bonds with teammates and prove she was one of the most skilled, determined all-around players.

“I love playing against boys,” she said. “I enjoy the fast-paced and physical style of play. It wasn’t always easy though. I was often looked down upon. Before the opposing team saw me play, the boys would assume that they could beat me because I was a girl. I was seen as a weak link. However, once the final whistle blew, most boys would acknowledge my skill. I enjoyed being able to play hard and show what I was capable of. My fear was that the boys wouldn’t go hard against me because I was a female, but they treated me fairly and played hard against me. I enjoyed the challenge because I wanted to prove myself.”

One such example of her toughness came in the 2022 regional final when she was knocked to the ground by another charging player. While the play initially stunned Field and perhaps even knocked the wind out of her, she picked herself up, gathered her senses, shook off whatever injury she might have endured, and took the ensuing free kick. She played the rest of the game.

Field said being part of a close-knit community, school and team made it even more special when the Eagles realized strong overall success.

“It was an amazing experience,” Field said of Islesboro playing in back-to-back regional finals. “I love all of my teammates and we have a good time together. We worked really hard to advance to the regional finals two years in a row. Although we didn’t get the result we wanted, I’m proud of our hard work. It’s a big deal for a small island school like ours to advance that far in playoffs. The support we received from the island was something I had never experienced at my previous high school. It was a very special thing to be a part of.”

Islesboro coach Robert McHugh said Field started on the island soccer squad as a sophomore in the midst of COVID-19.

“She was among a handful of girls, but clearly stood out,” he said. “One day she mentioned to a couple boys that she was planning to play D1 in college and was already in the pipeline for that. Several boys took to playfully mocking her when she would rarely make a mistake, gently taunting ‘D1…’ In less than a season, that taunt got completely reversed — when she would do something well — beat an opponent, trick an opponent, the refrain was the same ‘D1…’ but it was a congratulatory cheer of pride, approval, and appreciation for who she was on our team.”

Soccer has been one of the conduit that has helped Field mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

“I love the game of soccer because it’s an outlet for me,” she said. “I can get my mind off of things and play the beautiful game. If I’m upset or stressed, soccer has always been an escape for me. I also love the social aspect of soccer. I’ve always viewed my teammates as family. The high I get after stepping off the field is a feeling like no other. Not only is the exercise great, but the game is challenging. By pushing myself, I’ve been able to see what I’m truly capable of. It’s an honor to be able to play in one of the best leagues in the nation.”

Her experiences with talent-laden club/travel teams began long before she moved to the rocky coast of Maine in the middle of the pandemic.

She lived in northern Virginia 15 years before moving to Maine in 2020. Before that, her family summered in the village of Bayside in Northport.

“My parents put me into recreation soccer at the age of 4,” Field said. “I stuck with the sport, and at the age of 8, I started playing on a club team (Loudoun Soccer). As a young kid, I trained with my team three times a week, and I had games/tournaments on the weekends. As I grew older, my training became more rigorous. I would still train three times a week with my team, but I also received private training sessions and strength and conditioning sessions. I traveled all over the country for games/tournaments, and I often missed school as a result.

“Once I moved up to Maine, the only high level team around was in New Hampshire. I started playing for Seacoast United’s Girls Academy team. Due to the fact that Seacoast’s facilities were three hours away, I started going to training only once a week. However, I continued getting a lot of private training. I continued traveling all over the country for games/college showcases. On top of that, I also participated in high school soccer. We trained every day for high school soccer and traveled a lot for games.”

Field said she always has played the defensive line, believes she is a strong defender and skilled at maintaining possession of the ball. “I have good vision of the field and I help to create an attack. I communicate with my teammates and I’m a physical player. Although my foot skills have improved, there is definitely still room for improvement. I also feel that I could slide tackle more given the opportunity.”

Coach McHugh said Field’s incredible soccer talent was easy to see — in practices and games.

“Reagan was the most technically-proficient player we had — her touch was virtually without error, her shot was one of the most accurate on the field,” he said. “Tactically, she again led the team. She was able to make decisions correctly almost all of the time, and she was a weapon out of the back that several coaches told me ‘scared them to death.’ In terms of her performance during matches, she is truly the only athlete we had that played consistently at the top of her game. Usually athletes play down against weak teams, and up against strong teams. Reagan never let up, never relented.

“Reagan was a natural leader on the team, and earned the respect of literally all our players, girls, and yet, most notably, the boys. She could body up and knock over any of our boys, and nearly any of the opposing teams’ boys …  It was amazing to watch her fight, and win, nearly every time. In one of my classes, we were all talking about the previous games, and I remember Reagan saying something to the effect, “of course I love beating boys on the field, nothing feels better when faking out a boy, blowing past him, and having him think, I just got beat by a girl.’ ”

Alas, despite the time, energy and travel put into honing her game, Field has “made the hard decision to not play college soccer. I went through the recruitment process and I was recruited by colleges. However, soccer began to feel more like a job than something I did for enjoyment. Soccer is very physically and emotionally demanding. Not everyone understands the mental health effects that come with playing sports at a very high level. I felt immense pressure to succeed and become a D1 athlete. I was physically and emotionally drained.

“As a result, I made the hard decision to take a step back from soccer. I was always known as the talented soccer player, so I felt as if I let everyone down. However, I know now that I made the best decision for myself. I will miss the sport, but I’m thankful for everything it’s taught me. Soccer has given me so much, and I will always be grateful for the many years I’ve spent playing the beautiful game.”

Field, who attends the Anchor Church in Rockport (she is involved in classes and youth groups at the church), sings, sails (she teaches sailing at Northport Yacht Club) and works at Bayside Store, said she hopes to study nursing, to ultimately become a labor and delivery nurse, and has applied to Boston College, Providence College, Villanova University in Pennsylvannia, James Madison University of Harrisonburg, Va., Emory University of Atlanta, Ga. and Marquette University of Milwaukee, Wis.

She said she may play club soccer in college.

McHugh said Field, Her parents are Shiloh Field and Bryan Field and siblings Mason, Eli, Esme and Hollyn. Additionally, her best friend is her golden retriever, Bowen, is a “kind, compassionate, thoughtful, competitive young woman” and one anecdote can some up her as a person.

The coach also is the town’s recreation department director, organizes youth soccer and had his four high school captains periodically volunteer.

“Although Reagan could only do a couple of times because she had an online college statistics class she had to attend, the two times that she was there, the youth soccer practice never went so well,” McHugh said. “She was incredibly encouraging, she was able to meet the young players at their level, she was able to be meaningfully encouraging, she instilled a healthy level of competition, and the girls, in particular, really glommed onto her. She was naturally an astounding coach and leader.”

That is because this girl has game — on and off the field.