Varsity Field Hockey
Thornton Academy was one of the first schools in the state of Maine to offer the sport of field hockey for interested female players. The roots of the program lie in the years immediately following World War II. In 1948, 48 girls came out for the team and played in a parking area located on one end of Thornton Academy’s athletic complex on the east side of Main Street (at the site of the current Saco Rite Aid). Since then, the program has grown, and the school has offered field hockey teams every year since 1952, when Caroline Strong’s team finished the season at 5-1-1.
Thornton Academy field hockey has a rich tradition and history. Thornton has had two undefeated regular season squads (1964, 1988) and has been highly competitive in the Southwestern Maine Activities Association (SMAA). The 1988 team also captured the SMAA championship and won sixteen games, an all-time program record; that team was inducted into the Thornton Academy Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. More recently, the 2015 Golden Trojan field hockey team finished the season at 15-3 and was recognized as Class A South regional champions. The 2015 Thornton Academy field hockey team is the only squad in the program’s history to compete in a state championship game.
The field hockey program is also committed to community service and annually engages in a number of fundraising and service projects. Members of the Saco Recreation Department youth programs play exhibition games at high school events throughout the fall season. In addition, the varsity and junior varsity teams sponsor “pink games” in which funds are raised to support individuals and families afflicted with cancer.
Some of the finest student-athletes in Thornton Academy history have competed for Thornton Academy field hockey. Lisa DeFrancesco was a three-time Maine Sunday Telegram All-State selection and went on to have an excellent career at Northeastern University in Boston. Grace Pickering was an all-conference and all-state selection and earned the prestigious Miss Maine Field Hockey Award following the 2015 season. Her teammate Libby Pomerleau was also an all-state player who is the leading scorer in the history of the program. A number of Thornton Academy field hockey players, including Lisa DeFrancesco, Leslie Couture, Sandra Brochu, and Samantha McAuliffe, have been inducted into the Thornton Academy Athletic Hall of Fame as individual athletes.
The field hockey program has been led by several highly successful coaches over the years. Nancy Mailman led six Thornton Academy field hockey teams into the postseason and made four appearances in Western Maine Class A semifinal games. Diann Wood coached the 1988 league championship team and guided her squad to the regional championship game. Current head coach Lori Smith has collected 142 victories in her 21 seasons and is the school’s winningest all-time coach.
Participation in field hockey at Thornton Academy is limited to females only. The majority of practices and all varsity games take place at Hill Stadium. The junior varsity team plays contests at both Hill Stadium and an adjacent grass field. There are tryouts for selection to the varsity and junior varsity squads. The preseason typically consists of one week of double sessions (morning, late afternoon) in which players are evaluated on their conditioning, technical abilities, and tactical knowledge. The process for earning a slot on the varsity squad is typically quite competitive. However, students with less experience or who may be looking to improve their skills have an opportunity to participate on the junior squad.