HAMPDEN, Maine — The Skowhegan High School Indians received a stern test from the Messalonskee Eagles in their quest to earn a ninth straight Eastern Maine Class A schoolgirl championship.
But sophomore forward Jessie Skillings scored in each half and Megan Hancock turned aside four shots as the Indians triumphed 2-0 Monday night at the Hampden Academy field.
Skowhegan, 17-0, will face Western Maine titlist Scarborough, also 17-0, in Saturday’s state final at Yarmouth.
Skowhegan is seeking its ninth consecutive state championship.
Messalonskee of Oakland finished 15-2 with both losses coming at the hands of the Indians.
Hancock’s triplet sister, sweeper Makayla Hancock, helped her out by clearing a MacKenzie Labbe shot off the goal line in the first half.
“We played well,” said Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty. “Our defense came up big and we were able to take advantage of our chances.”
There was little to choose between the two teams as each enjoyed periods of extended pressure.
Messalonskee goalie Mickelle McCafferty was the busier of the two in the first half and kept the game scoreless with several important saves.
Skowhegan was awarded a penalty stroke with 17:42 left in the half but McCafferty lunged to her right and pushed Makayla Hancock’s shot away with her stick and arm.
That save followed two earlier gems, first off Nicole Sevey, who was set up in front by Makayla Hancock, and then off Mallory Hancock, who redirected younger sister Noelle Hancock’s long hit.
Makayla Hancock bailed her sister out during a wild flurry in front of the cage. The ball deflected to Labbe who fired toward the far corner.
“I just tried to stay low and shoot it to the far post,” said Labbe.
“When the goalie is out, my job is to cover for her,” explained sweeper Makayla Hancock. “And that’s what I did.”
Skillings finally broke the scoreless deadlock with 1:35 left in the first half.
Corrine Anderson’s free hit pinballed in the penalty circle to Skillings, who converted from McCafferty’s right.
“The ball went between Mallory [Hancock] and Kati [Washburn] and Kati dropped it to me. I shot it to the near side,” said Skillings.
McCafferty said she wasn’t as well-positioned as she could have been.
“I could have had a better angle,” said McCafferty.
Messalonskee coach Brenda Beckwith said surrendering a late first-half goal “was my greatest fear because we were back in a defensive mode.”
Skowhegan created four penalty corners over the final eight minutes with its pressure.
The Eagles, sparked by sophomore forward Katie Bernatchez and junior midfielder Lauren Hachey, played with a sense of urgency in the second half and had the Indians pinned in their own end for the first 15 minutes.
But Skowhegan received a few timely saves from Megan Hancock and effectively cleared loose balls out of the circle and got their sticks on shots.
Skillings made it 2-0 with the Indians’ first shot at goal in the second half, coming with 14:43 remaining.
Renee DesPres took a long free hit that led to the goal.
“It went to Liz Noddin and she pushed it to me. I was open,” said Skillings, who deposited it past the helpless McCafferty.
But the valiant Eagles never quit, generating more good scoring chances only to be thwarted.
“They’re a great team. They always have been,” said Makayla Hancock.
“It was a tough game,” said Skillings.
McCafferty finished with five saves and defender Alyssa Eugley was credited with another one.
Both teams finished with 11 shots at goal.