Cassandra Mascarenhas of the University of Maine field hockey team, pictured during a 2019 game. Credit: Courtesy of Paul Lynch

The University of Maine’s field hockey team is still looking for its first America East Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament berth, and could make progress toward those aspirations this weekend.

UMaine will face defending two-time regular season champ Monmouth (New Jersey) on Friday  at 3 p.m. and a Stanford University team on Sunday at noon that has won four of the last five America East tournament championships. 

By winning both of those games, the Black Bears could get a leg up on becoming the regular season champ and hosting the tournament.

UMaine and Monmouth shared the regular season title a year ago, but Monmouth won the tie-breaker because the Hawks defeated the Black Bears 3-2 during the season in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

Monmouth also beat UMaine in New Jersey the previous year, 4-2.

This will be Monmouth’s first-ever visit to Orono.

Stanford, which has knocked UMaine out of the AE playoffs the last two seasons, is playing Vermont in Burlington, Vermont, on Friday. Stanford is 1-2.

This is the first weekend of America East regular season play and Monmouth and UMaine were chosen one-two in the preseason coaches poll, separated by just one point.

Monmouth is 5-3 overall and ranked 20th in the country while UMaine is 3-5 with all five losses coming against teams ranked among the top 23 in the country. Four of those losses came in overtime.

UMaine is coming off home wins over Merrimack (5-1) and Northeastern (2-0) and has won 11 of its last 12 home games.

The high-scoring Hawks are averaging 3.12 goals per game behind Annick van Lange’s nine goals and two assists, Lorane Vanneste’s seven goals and two assists, and Hanna McKie’s five goals and an assist.

Old Town graduate student Brooke Sulinski is leading the Black Bears with seven goals and she has scored in four of her last five games. Boothbay Harbor’s Sydney Meader has two goals and three assists, and 2020 AE Midfielder of the Year Hana Davis has three goals in just four games. She returned to the lineup last weekend after missing four games with a broken toe.

Tereza Holubcova (1 goal, 4 assists) and Chloe Walton (2 & 2) are also scoring threats and 2019 AE Defender of the Year Cassanda Mascarenhas will anchor the defense along with goalie Mia Borley (2.14 goals-against average, .753 save percentage).

The Cardinal from Stanford haven’t played since a 4-1 win over Dartmouth College on Sept. 6 in which it outshot the Big Green 22-1.

First-year coach Roz Ellis has not used a goalie in her first three games, using an extra field player instead.

Stanford dropped its field hockey program after this past spring’s tourney championship season but it has since been reinstated.

Haley Mossmer and Lynn Vanderstichele have each scored two goals and Caroline Rinehart has the other.