Avery Herrick of Dexter Regional High School, pictured during a recent game, switched from soccer to field hockey this season for the first time. The junior has emerged as the leading scorer for the Tigers, who are seeded second in the Class C North playoffs that begin Tuesday. Credit: Courtesy of Josie Raymond Gray

Avery Herrick was a prolific goal scorer for the Dexter High School girls soccer team for two seasons.

But she wasn’t happy.

So, despite being a soccer player her whole life, she decided to try something different this fall: Field hockey.

“I wanted to switch. I wanted to do something new,” Herrick said.

Going into the Class C North quarterfinals, the junior is Dexter’s leading scorer with 12 goals and 13 assists. She has figured in 25 of 40 goals scored by the 11-3 Tigers, who are the No. 2 seed behind undefeated rival Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft.

“I knew she would do well because she is such a good athlete,” Dexter coach Brittany [Veazie] McAllister said.

“She has blown us away with what she has been able to do for us,” she added.

Herrick had a valuable supporter once she made up her mind to play field hockey, her mother Daralyn (Smiley) Herrick.

Avery Herrick’s aunt Darby Smiley and mom were successful field hockey players at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford.

“She was very excited. She saw my potential. And I knew how good she was,” Avery Herrick said. “I’m so much happier now that I switched. I’m in a much better mood, and that makes my whole life better.”

She began watching field hockey videos with her mom to learn the rules and the skills involved. They practiced hitting the ball back and forth in the yard.

Herrick attended field hockey clinics and played over the summer with her new teammates.

“The biggest change is I wasn’t used to holding something in my hand and getting down low all the time,” Herrick said. “It was very hard for me. It still is.”

The transition to playing for a new team was not difficult because she has a lot of friends who play field hockey team.

“They have really helped me. They’ll tell me if I’m doing things wrong and what I can do [to improve],” she said.

There are several juniors on the team, and their familiarity with each other and friendships have aided Herrick’s transition to a new sport and team.

“They have really embraced her and made her feel like part of the team,” McAllister said.

Herrick has recently begun playing for the prestigious Waterville-based Maine Majestix field hockey club team under the direction of Colby College coach Kelly Terwilliger.

“I’m not as skilled as those girls but it’s a lot of fun, and they’re helping me adapt to it. Coach [Terwilliger] is awesome,” Herrick said. “We’re going to Florida over the Thanksgiving break to play in a festival.”

McAllister said the fact other Dexter players also compete for the Majestix benefits her team’s skill and cohesiveness.

Herrick, who is also an outstanding basketball and softball player, has filled an important void for the Tigers as a high-scoring center forward.

“I think she scored 40 goals in two seasons for the soccer team,” McAllister said. “She can find the goal and that has carried over, which is nice.’’

With Herrick putting the ball in the cage often, opponents have naturally begun focusing on trying to shut her down.

“That has opened things up for some of our other girls. That has benefited our overall team scoring,” Herrick said.

McAllister has been impressed with the dramatic improvement Herrick has displayed over the course of the season.

“She has one of the best [shots] on the team, and she has improved when it comes to carrying the ball. She’s much better at dodging defenders and moving around them,” McAllister said.

Herrick said scoring goals and helping her team win are her primary objectives every game.

“I’m all offensive-minded, which might be a bad thing. But I do want to be able to go back and get the ball and bring it up the field and score,” Herrick said.

She is excited about the start of the playoffs.

“I’m pumped up. After we won the [Class C North] softball last spring, we want to keep going,” Herrick said.