Hermon High School senior right back Peyton Estey wasn’t sure what to expect this season from her field hockey team.
The Hawks were coming off a 5-9 campaign and a preliminary round loss to Gardiner 4-1.
But when Hermon upset defending Class B North field hockey champ Old Town 2-1 in overtime in its sixth game of the season, everything changed.
The Hawks haven’t lost since, stringing together a nine-game winning streak to finish the regular season with a 12-2 record, which represents the most wins in the program’s 43-year history. The Hawks’ seven more wins than last year also represents the biggest turnaround by any of the state’s 70 field hockey programs.
The only two losses have come at the hands of Class A Bangor and Brewer.
The Hawks hadn’t had a winning season since they went 8-6 in 2017.
“We have always had fun but we wanted it more this year. And we really wanted to beat Old Town,” said Estey, whose senior class had never beaten the Coyotes.
Estey said they gained more confidence as they continued to rack up the wins, and that the team’s success has become a popular topic of conversation in school and around town.
“We have worked so hard this year,” senior forward Grace Kelly said. “We work on things all the time because we want to keep getting better.”
Estey and Kelly said Hermon coach Shawna Neal has done an excellent job making sure they work hard every day, and that the coach’s up-beat attitude and encouragement have been beneficial.
Neal admitted that she wasn’t expecting to have such a successful regular season.
She shifted girls around in the middle of the field, which has helped, and her sophomores are much stronger than they were a year ago.
“The freshmen got pushed around a lot last year. But they can handle themselves this year,” Neal said.
One of those sophomores is left wing Molly Simcox, who has scored a team-leading 25 goals after a 16-goal freshman campaign.
“She is very quick and she is at the right place at the right time,” Neal said of Simcox, who scored the overtime game-winner against Old Town.
Another sophomore, Delaney Carr, is the right wing and has chipped in with 13 goals and 13 assists.
The other sophomore starters are forward Danielle Holland, left midfielder Addison Waning and center back Sophie Peterson.
Estey and Kelly are two of the four senior starters along with right midfielder Makena Nevells and midfielder Allie Erdt.
There are two junior starters in goalie Lydia Caron and center back Abby Gray.
It is a close-knit team, according to Estey.
Neal and the players are looking forward to the field hockey playoffs after exiting in the first round last season.
“We are so excited,” said Kelly, whose Hawks are going to be the sixth seed.
The other two field hockey teams in B North that have shown the biggest improvement are Gardiner, which is 10-3-1 after going 6-7 a year ago, and 6-7-1 Oceanside of Rockland, which was 3-10 in 2021.
In A North, Bangor girls basketball coach Jay Kemble’s first foray into field hockey has been a successful one as his Rams won four more games than 2021. Bangor went 8-6 after a 4-9 mark last season.
Brewer and Edward Little field hockey teams have each won three more games.
Class C North’s biggest mover has been Dexter/Central.
Dexter was 6-8 last season and Central was 2-12, and this year’s team, a co-op between the two schools, is 11-3.
Spruce Mountain of Jay has won four more games, going 11-3 after a 7-5-2 mark last season.