Team leader combines ‘force and finesse’
“We’ve had her on the team for four years and she’s always been a calm, but competitive player,” said Scarborough High School girls hockey coach Caitlin Cashman, as McKeown and her teammates practiced Dec. 9 at the MHG Ice Centre in Saco. “You don’t always see that. She has a really great spirit to her. She is almost like the mother hen out there. She really cares about her teammates and gives them good advice.”
This season is the capstone of a yearslong hockey career for McKeown.
“We had a back yard rink. Ever since I could walk (I played hockey). I used to go out there in my Barbie skates,” McKeown said “My brothers played, too, so they were a big influence. My dad was my coach up until high school. I have always been involved with it.”
McKeown spent part of last summer inspiring others to follow in her footsteps by helping with a youth hockey camp at the Portland Ice Arena for girls in fifth and sixth grade.
“There were some Scarborough athletes there, so it was nice to see where the talent is coming from,” McKeown said.
To be successful in girls’ hockey, McKeown said, players need both force and finesse.
“Finesse plays a role, but it is still hockey and you still have to push some people around,” McKeown said. “In this league you see girls with really great hands and great feet. There is definitely both, but there is less physical contact in girls hockey.”
After last season, in which the team compiled a 19-2-1 record, McKeown said the team is ready to fight for the state title again. In March the team fell just short of capturing its first state championship, losing 1-0 in overtime to Greely in the title game.
“We lost a lot of players from last year. We didn’t know how this season was going to start out, but from the first practice we had great chemistry. You always say that, but I think it really shows on the ice,” McKeown said.
A big part of that chemistry, Cashman said, can be attributed to McKeown and fellow co-captains, senior goalie Devan Kane, senior defenseman Brenna Kent and junior forward Kristen Murray.
“Anytime you have teenagers, they are going to listen to their peers more than they are going to listen to their parents, teachers or coaches, so to have girls like Riley and the other three captains as role models and leaders, it really motivates the other girls to come, get here on time and work hard,” Cashman said.
Cashman said she hopes that hard work pays off at the end of the season, but she and her team are taking a game-by-game approach and not getting too ahead of themselves.
“We talk about how every game prepares you for the playoffs,” Cashman said.
So far that approach has worked for Scarborough. As of Tuesday, Dec. 10, the team (3-0) was in first place in the western conference after securing victories over York, • 1,400 varieties Leavitt/Edward Little and • 400 varieties Falmouth. • Home Brewer’s
Cashman said the team • Friendly, knowledgeable needs to work on both • Case price starting the game strong and ending the game strong.
While she is still six months away from graduation, McKeown is already making plans for where she will attend college next fall.
McKeown recently applied to the University of Dayton, the Ohio school that her father attended. While the University of Dayton is her “top school,” McKeown is also is interested in Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., the school that Kane recently committed to.
She is not looking to play collegiate hockey, but does hope to continue playing, at least at the club level.
“I don’t know how I couldn’t after all these years,” McKeown said.
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