HAMPDEN, Maine — Skowhegan’s dominance of Maine Class A field hockey stretches back more than a decade.
During that time, coach Paula Doughty’s teams have consistently demonstrated enough skill and poise to keep winning.
On Tuesday night, a less-experienced Skowhegan team continued the tradition as the top-seeded Indians earned a 1-0 victory over No. 2 Messalonskee of Oakland in the Eastern Maine championship game at Hampden Academy.
Skowhegan (17-0) goes for its fourth straight state title — and its 12th in the last 13 years — on Saturday at Yarmouth when the Indians play Western Maine winner Scarborough (16-0-1).
“We lost everybody but four last year. We had a real tough spring and over the summer we were pretty shaky,” Doughty said. “The coaching staff and the kids have worked so hard this year.”
Skowhegan, which has outscored opponents 111-2 this season, beat the Eagles (14-3) for the third time this season. Messalonskee was the only team to score on Skowhegan amidst 2-1 and 3-1 regular-season losses.
Senior midfielder Allison Lancaster provided the only goal Tuesday. It came on a penalty stroke with 4:40 gone in the second half.
A scramble in front of the Messalonskee cage included a shot by senior Logan LeBlanc and a save by Eagles goalkeeper Abigail Roberts.The ensuing scramble resulted in a foul.
Lancaster took the stroke, lifting a high shot over the outstretched left hand of Roberts.
“I tried to use my fake and I guess it worked out,” Lancaster said.
“Honestly, it kind of is a [last-] moment decision of mine,” she explained. “I have to decide which side — I like both of them — but I try to mix it up every time.”
Skowhegan failed to score in the first half for the first time all season, despite registering a big advantage in shots and a 3-2 edge in penalty corners.
Led by a hard-charging group of midfielders and forwards that included Lancaster, Brooke Michonski, Rylie Blanchet, Renee Wright and Alanna Wacome, the Indians outshot Messalonskee 26-5 overall. They were awarded 12 penalty corners to the Eagles’ three.
Skowhegan was determined to grab the lead after the scoreless first half.
“I just knew that we had to come out hard, we usually do,” Lancaster said. “I just need to pump the girls up and I knew that our hearts would lead us there.”
Coach Katie McLaughlin’s Messalonskee squad fought hard throughout and managed a couple of late offensive threats. The Eagles had a good scoring chance with 4:30 to play, but a high-percentage shot was knocked away by goalie Leah Kruse for her only save.
Messalonskee spent most of the game in its own end, where Mikayla Turner, Sydney Gagne and Kristen Kern broke up numerous potential scoring chances in front of Roberts, who made 12 saves.
“Their record speaks for them. They’re an amazing team,” said Turner, who explained Messalonskee has a healthy respect for the Indians, but didn’t fear them.
“[If] you go out on that field and say I’m going to give 100 percent and we’re going to win, you don’t have room for that resignation,” she said.