The ball had barely settled into the goal cage at Hampden Academy, and the magnitude of the moment hadn’t sunk in for Foxcroft Academy sophomore Monica Miles.
Miles had just sent her Ponies into today’s Class C state final against North Yarmouth with her penalty-stroke goal in overtime against defending state champion Dexter, and amidst the celebration, she was a bit stunned.
“I was a little nervous, but I always am,” she admitted after that game. “I just did my routine and put it in.”
The Ponies will be seeking another celebration when they take on the Panthers at the University of Maine’s Morse Field today at noon, which kicks off a state-championship tripleheader.
Skowhegan will meet Cheverus of Portland in the Class A game at 2, while Nokomis of Newport and York will wrap up the day with the Class B match at 4.
Foxcroft is a fairly young squad with only two seniors, but the Ponies showed surefire confidence in knocking off a Dexter squad that had outscored them 7-0 in two regular-season contests.
“We were confident that if we could play well and if we played strong enough, we definitely could (win),” said Miles, a sophomore.
The Ponies will certainly not be intimidated today by the mystique of an NYA club that has won the last two Western Maine championships.
“If we just go in with the right mindset, I think we can beat them, too,” Miles said. “We’re just going to go in really strong. Obviously, we don’t know what to expect from not playing them before, but we’re going to go in with the right mindset and work our hardest.”
The Panthers have been dynamite offensively throughout the Western Maine playoffs, including a 3-2 win over Telstar of Bethel in the regional championship game, but Miles knows if the Ponies use the same defensive mentality they used against Dexter, they’ll be OK.
“We just worked on getting it out of the circle and getting it up to the wings,” she said.
The Class B game features two schools that have become well-acquainted in state-championship competition over the years, as Nokomis and York not only played in the state championship game in field hockey in 2008, they met on the basketball hardwood last winter.
The Wildcats won both of those confrontations, but the Warriors are confident they can use their experience to tangle with the two-time defending Western Maine champions.
“I know what it’s like and I want to be here as much as possible,” said junior midfielder Marissa Shaw, also a guard on Nokomis’ basketball team.
Senior forward Jordan McGinnis added, “We know we have to come out pumped and ready to go just like we have these last few games.”
The Warriors’ defense has been getting it done during the postseason with shutouts of John Bapst of Bangor and Mount View of Thorndike, the top two seeds in Eastern Maine, and coach Katie Thompson is hopeful that’ll continue.
“Just like our goals all postseason have been, we need to play excellent team defense all over the field, starting with the forwards. They have to play defense on the ball as soon as they lose it,” she said. “I think if we keep doing a great job with that, our chances will be good.”
Thompson is also positive this state-championship experience will be unlike that of two years ago, when Nokomis won its first-ever regional championship in field hockey.
“They’re much more poised in this situation than they were a couple years ago, and I think the experience factor does play into it,” Thompson said.
The Class A contest features a Cheverus team that has never played in a state final facing a tradition-laden Skowhegan club that had its eight-year reign stopped by Scarborough last fall.
Even though the Indians feature only two seniors, tradition very rarely graduates, and coach Paula Doughty’s Indians will be looking to claim gold after coming up short last fall.
Cheverus did beat defending state champion Scarborough in the Western Maine playoffs to reach this point.