FARMINGTON — The Skowhegan field hockey team may be young, but it’s getting more battle tested by the game.

Tied at 1-1 early in the second half, the River Hawks quickly pulled back ahead thanks to a penalty shot by Sam Thebarge, and then pulled away on a late goal by Paige Gilbert, for a 3-1 win over Mt. Blue on Thursday.

The win lifts Skowhegan’s record to 10-0-0, tops in Class A North. But not all of the wins have come easy for the River Hawks. Thursday’s win is the third this season that Skowhegan has won by two goals or less, which includes a 2-0 win over Messalonskee on Sept. 23 and a 1-0 win over Nokomis on Sept. 30. With more than half the roster full of freshmen and sophomores, the River Hawks are quickly gaining more experience.

“(The key has been) just working really hard and talking, that’s the biggest key,” Gilbert said. “It gets tough, but we can do it.”

“I said to them at halftime, we’ve got to fight these battles if we’re going to get through the tournament,” Skowhegan head coach Paula Doughty said. “Because that’s what the tournament is all about. They need these battles, and I think it’s been really heartening to them that they can fight through it.”

Mt. Blue (6-5-0) brought the pressure early, keeping the ball on the Skowhegan side of the field for much of the first quarter. But Skowhegan turned the tide in the second quarter, thanks to a goal by Layla Conway, and went into halftime with a 1-0 lead.

The Cougars answered back within a minute of the start of the second half, when Natalie Howard slipped a shot into the goal to tie the game. It was the first goal Skowhegan has allowed this season, a scoring differential that now stands at 45-1.

“They are so young, and they’ve never played (at Mt. Blue) before,” Doughty said. “I live here. It’s always a battle over here. I don’t think my kids had any idea what a battle it was going to be. Once we got through that first quarter, they were like, ‘Oh, maybe (Mt. Blue) is here to play.’ At that point, I think we really stepped it up.”

Skowhegan’s Laney LeBlanc, left, falls to the turf after getting tangled up with Mt. Blue’s Eva Marie Stevens, right, in field hockey action Thursday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The tie didn’t stand for long. Within a minute, Thebarge was granted a penalty shot, and she took advantage, firing the shot into the goal for the 2-1 lead.

Skowhegan kept the pressure on for most of the second half, which eventually paid off with a Gilbert goal with just under two minutes to play for the final 3-1 score.

“We knew (Mt. Blue) was going to be really tough,” Gilbert said. “They really wanted to beat us. But we just pushed through and worked really hard.”

Like the River Hawks, the Cougars are also fielding a young roster this season, but have shown fight throughout. Thursday was Mt. Blue’s third loss of the season by two goals or less.

“We never give up, they just kept fighting,” Mt. Blue head coach Jody Harmon said. “Finishing has been our issue this season. We’re right there, we’re right there in a lot of the games, not in this one, but we’ve outshot a lot of teams. We’ve got to find a way to get that ball in the cage.”


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