Field hockey state championship preview

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Class A

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: The Skowhegan Indians are in the Class A state field hockey final.

What you may not have heard recently — nay, never in the past 37 years — is that Westbrook is there, too.

It’s a study in contrast in the Class A final, with the high-flying and tradition-rich Indians looking for their third consecutive state crown and 15th in the past 17 years. The Indians have also played in the state final in 20 of the past 21 seasons.

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Leading the way for Skowhegan on the back end has been stalwart keeper Leah Savage, while Maliea Kelso, who is committed to play in college at Northeastern University, is among a talented and deep front line.

Westbrook, meanwhile, is this year’s tourney Cinderella. The No. 6 seed, the Blue Blazes knocked out No. 11 Bonny Eagle, No. 3 Cheverus and No. 2 Massabesic before holding off No. 4 Biddeford in the regional final.

“I have so many emotions running through my mind right now,” senior midfielder Maddison LeBeau told the Portland Press Herald after the win Tuesday. “It’s so awesome. We’re a family and we earned it.”

Class B

What at first appeared to be a likely, “normal” year with York and Winslow in the final pairing was turned on its head in the quarterfinal round when Unbeaten and top-seeded Winslow fell to No. 8 Nokomis in the North bracket after the Warriors won a prelim against Morse.

Nokomis’ run was short-lived, though. Gardiner, another strong KVAC squad and the No. 4 team in the bracket took down Nokomis. Meanwhile, No. 3 MCI — yes, last year’s Class C finalist — took care of No. 6 Hermon and No. 2 Belfast before toppling Gardiner in the regional final to reach a third consecutive state final, the past two coming in Class C. The Huskie defeated Oak Hill in 2015, and lost to the Raiders last season.

They’ll face … York.

This year’s Wildcats may not have been as strong as last year’s edition, but they have been solid all season, and they’ve improved as the season has gone along. They did, however, survive their own semifinal scare in an overtime win over No. 5 Lake Region. A game Poland team toppled No. 6 Greely and No. 2 Yarmouth to force a regional final showdown with York, ultimately falling 3-1. York is looking to win its fourth consecutive state crown in Class B and fifth since 2008. The Wildcats have appeared in the state final 12 times in the past 14 years.

Class C

The only bracket in which both No. 1 seeds survived the tournaments pits two former MVC rivals against one another. The Saints spent a handful of years in the MVC between stints in the Western Maine Conference, and faced Winthrop once or twice a year during that time, despite remaining on opposite sides of the state tourney bracket.

This season, the Saints were on a mission after falling in stunning fashion to Oak Hill in the 2016 regional final. St. Dom’s piled on the goals this season, to the tune of more than eight per game over 17 contests. The Saints have allowed only seven. And while Hannah Trottier-Braun has the most goals on the team, she still has fewer than half of its total. Paige Cote, Bailey Derocher, Caroline Johnson and Kylie Leavitt have been solid on offense as well, and Callie Samson has been a steadying influence in the middle.

Abby Slonina hasn’t been tested much, but has been solid when called upon. The Saints didn’t blitz their playoff opponents like they did those in the regular season, but they won, which is all that mattered.

The Ramblers, meanwhile, had tough battles with all kinds of playoff teams in the regular season, and that tough schedule has served them well in the postseason, including an overtime win over always-tough No. 2 Dexter in the regional final.

Kinli DiBiase, Katie Perkins, Moriah Hajduk, Nora Conrad and Kerrigan Anuszewski have been among the spark plugs for Winthrop.

The Ramblers will be looking for their first state title victory since 1989. The Saints have never won a Class C crown.

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