Skowhegan’s Hannah McKenney, right, tries to get a stick on the ball as Mt. Blue goalie Brooke Bolduc makes the save during the Class A North championship game at Thomas College in Waterville. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
WATERVILLE — The regular season suggested there would be no stopping the Skowhegan field hockey team.
The first few minutes of Wednesday’s Class A North final confirmed it.
Adelle Foss and Hannah McKenney tallied early goals, Bhreagh Kennedy added another and the top-seeded Indians rolled to another Class A North championship with a 3-0 victory over No. 2 Mt. Blue at Thomas College.
“It’s always a new feeling,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said.
Just not a new result. Skowhegan’s regional title is its 18th straight, and 21st in 22 years.
“People say, ‘Doesn’t it get boring?’ ” Doughty said. “It doesn’t get boring. And these kids are all new kids.”
And this group didn’t want to be the one to end the run.
“I’m just really excited to be a part of it all,” said McKenney, a sophomore. “We’re always (saying) we don’t want to be on the team that loses. We want to keep the tradition going.”
There was little doubt that they would, as the Indians (17-0) blitzed the Cougars (11-4-2) with a display of versatility. Seniors scored. Sophomores scored. On offense, Skowhegan buzzed around the Mt. Blue cage, firing 20 shots. On defense, the Indians might have been even better, holding the Cougars to one shot on goal and allowing no corners.
“This team, especially, has worked extremely hard to get here,” Doughty said.
That balance, depth and effort translated quickly to the scoreboard. Just over four minutes had passed by the time Lizzie York sent a long diagonal pass over to Foss on the left side, and the senior collected the ball and flicked the shot into the boards on the bottom of the right side of the cage for a 1-0 lead with 25:59 left in the half.
“We do a lot of corner drills and shooting for the far corner and following,” said Foss, who transferred to Skowhegan from Mt. Blue before the fall. “It was a great start. I feel like it really set the momentum of the game.”
It didn’t take long for Skowhegan to strike again. Maliea Kelso played a ball from the right side back to the space in front of the goal, where a cluster of Indians had gathered. The ball found McKenney, and her shot skidded through the traffic and in for a 2-0 lead with 21:12 left.
“Maliea just got the ball and made a really good pass, and I happened to be there and put it in,” McKenney said. “It was good timing. … We were like, ‘We have to score quickly,’ and it all came together.”
Skowhegan’s defense took it from there. The Cougars had a sequence with just under 17 minutes left in the half when they had possession of the ball near the Indians’ net, but they mustered only one shot that goalie Mackenzie McConnell kicked away.
It was as good of a look as Mt. Blue, seeking its first Class A final appearance since 1978, would have the rest of the way, with Skowhegan center back York and midfielder Kennedy among the busiest players at both breaking up the Cougars’ rushes and, with a quick pass or two, turning them into attacks the other way.
“We go into it thinking, ‘We can’t let anybody into the circle, we can’t let anybody score,’ ” York said. “We’re trying to go into all these tournament games with no scores on us. We’ve done that so far, hopefully we’ll continue that in the state game.”
Mt. Blue slowed the Skowhegan attack in the second half, turning the game into more of a midfield battle. A timeout called with 9:01 to go, however, seemed to rejuvenate the Indians, and one minute and 23 seconds later, York sent the ball in from the top of the circle and Kennedy redirected it into the goal for a 3-0 lead with 7:38 to go.
“Once we had those timeouts, we came back on offense again, and that changed it,” Doughty said. “They just stepped right back into it again.”
Junior goalie Brooke Bolduc helped keep the Cougars in the game, making 11 saves.
“We definitely did not play our best,” Mt. Blue coach Jody Harmon said. “They were just playing so tight and they were so nervous, that you could see it and you could sense it. … But they never gave up. They continued to fight.”
With Marielle Pelletier the only senior on the roster, Harmon quickly took a more upbeat approach when talking about the team’s future.
“I only had three varsity players on this roster from last year,” she said. “To do this and come as far as they have as a team and a unit, and to play with heart, I’m very proud of them.”
Skowhegan’s Alexis Michonski (14) jumps in to the arms of teammate Adelle Foss after scoring a goal on Mt. Blue goalie Brooke Bolduc, left, during the Class A North championship game at Thomas College in Waterville. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
Mt. Blue goalie Brooke Bolduc (27) gives up a goal to Skowhegan during the Class A North championship game at Thomas College in Waterville. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
Skowhegan’s Maliea Kelso, left, battles for the ball with Mt. Blue’s Madison Bard, right, during the Class A North championship game at Thomas College in Waterville. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)