Mt. Blue goalie Brooke Bolduc (27) makes a save on a shot by Skowhegan’s Alexis Michonski, left, with the help of defender Cally Chick, right, in Farmington on Thursday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
FARMINGTON — It’s a lesson just about every Class A North field hockey team has learned.
When you’re playing against Skowhegan, you’re not just playing the team on the field. You’re taking on close to 20 years of institutional confidence.
On Thursday afternoon, Mt. Blue’s two-goal second-half lead over the Indians evaporated quickly in the mid-September heat. Skowhegan scored four goals in five minutes and left with a 4-2 win.
Winner of 17 straight regional titles and 15 of the last 17 state crowns, Skowhegan improved to 5-0. Mt. Blue is now 3-1.
“It’s not just a physical game. It’s such a mental game, too. You can’t let them get ahead of you and psych you out. You’ve got to just keep coming back, and we tried,” Mt. Blue coach Jody Harmon said. “For three quarters of the game we were strong and played with them, and for the last 15 minutes we started to break down, and I think we ran out of stream.”
When Ellie Pelletier scored with 26:37 left in the game, her second goal, the Cougars held a 2-0 lead. That cushion was still two goals with 15 minutes to play.
Then, Skowhegan erupted.
First, Maliea Kelso scored with 14:04 left to cut Mt. Blue’s lead to 2-1. With 12:31 to play, Lizzie York scored off a penalty corner insert from Gabby Campbell to tie the game.
Just under a minute-and-a-half later, at 11:05, Alexis Michonski’s goal, set up by Alyssa Salley, gave the Indians a 3-2 lead. After a first half in which Skowhegan failed to convert seven penalty corners, and 15 minutes of the second half in which Skowhegan chances went wide, the Indians had found an offensive groove.
“We weren’t outplayed. Sometimes the harder you try, the more they go wide. Once we got that first one, they calmed down a little,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “That’s what they tend to do. They relax.”
Michonski scored again, this time off an assist from Bhreagh Kennedy, to give Skowhegan a 4-2 lead with 9:08 remaining.
“Once we get that adrenaline, we all work together. There’s no stopping us,” Kennedy said. “We were never going to give up, not until the last second. There’s no way we were going to lose 2-0. We were going to keep fighting until the end.”
Part of Skowhegan’s slow start could be attributed to adjusting to Mt. Blue’s field, Doughty said. On Tuesday, Skowhegan played against Messalonskee on artificial turf at Thomas College, a fast surface. On Thursday, Mt. Blue’s grass made for a slower, choppier game.
“It took us a really long time to adjust to it. It took us a while. It’s hard when you go from turf,” Doughty said.
Added Kennedy: “Our field is perfect. It’s kind of a challenge to adjust to bumpy fields like this.”
The Cougars took a 1-0 lead at 16:24 of the first half, when Pelletier scored her first goal.
“We played as a team. We were doing those little things,” Harmon said. “We’re a young team. I’m proud of our effort.”
Mt. Blue playersl celebrate a first-half goal against Skowhegan in Farmington on Thursday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
Mt. Blue players celebrate a first-half goal against Skowhegan in Farmington on Thursday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
Skowhegan’s Kayla Furbush (3), right center, takes a shot as Mt. Blue’s Mackenzie Latimer (3) helps teammate goalie Brooke Bolduc (27) in Farmington on Thursday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
Skowhegan’s Alexis Michonski (14) drives the ball down field against Mt. Bluel in Farmington on Thursday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)