ORONO — It was a great day to be clad in orange and black on a chilly fall afternoon which even saw a brief snow flurry at Morse Field.
Both the Skowhegan Indians and North Yarmouth Academy Panthers were making successive appearances in Saturday’s state championship field hockey games and both left the field on the winning end of the final scores.
Skowhegan looked every bit like a team making its 10th straight state-final appearance as it defeated Cheverus of Portland 3-0 for its ninth Class A title since 2000, and NYA won its second Class C crown in three years with a 2-1 victory over Foxcroft Academy that lasted through regulation, two overtimes, and one set of penalty corners.
In Class A, after watching players from an opposing team celebrate a win for the first time in nine years in last year’s state championship game, motivation was not a problem for the Indians this season.
That was plain Saturday as the Indians hit the University of Maine’s artificial turf sprinting and never let up en route to their 15th shutout of the season.
The 18-0 Indians were led by junior forward Jessica Skillings, who scored the first two goals.
“I think we were more mentally prepared for this year,” said Skillings, who remembered the shock she felt after her team lost to Scarborough last year.
Despite a very young squad with two freshman starters, the Indians played composed and aggressively.
“Every single team is different and this team, this is the youngest team I’ve ever had,” said Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty. “It’s funny. The younger ones still don’t get it. I mentioned if we lost, we were done and a few of them were like ‘We are? Really?’”
The Indians gave up just three goals all season.
“They’ve surprised us right from the beginning,” said assistant coach Tammie Veinotte.
The Indians executed their game plan to perfection.
“We kept the ball wide, to the right or the left, not using the middle,” Skillings said. “Defensively we wanted to push them out wide and not let them use the middle much.”
Haley Holt scored the other goal and Anne-Marie Provencal notched the shutout with three saves on three shots. Sarah Finnemore and Nicole Sevey each had an assist for the Indians.
Cynthia Clark had five saves on nine shots for the 13-5 Cheverus Stags.
In Class C, since their tried-and-true plays weren’t netting any scores, the North Yarmouth Academy girls decided to reach into their bag of tricks on Halloween eve and were treated to a victory.
“We’ve never done the play Megan scored off in a game,” said Kylie Dalbec, who set up fellow junior Megan Fortier for the game-winning goal on a pass from the left side. “We do it in practice, but we knew we had to change something up because Foxcroft knew some of our plays, so we went with that.”
“That” was M-O, a play the 17-1 Panthers practice a couple times a day, but never use. Fortier scored on a slap shot to the right side of the net off a perfect feed from Dalbec. Foxcroft’s shot to keep the game tied went wide, giving NYA the win.
“They just told me where to go, I was there, and Kylie got it right to me. It was perfect,” Fortier said.
The Panthers scored first on their second penalty corner when Dalbec slapped a deflected miss on a shot by Katie Millett into the left corner of the net. The Ponies knotted it up when Tia Tondreau scored on a shot to the left corner that trickled off and over Farrell’s glove and/or pads. The shot came off a pass from Jennifer Seavey and deflection/rebound by Gabrielle Henderson.
A young Ponies team wound up the season with an 11-6-1 record.
That the game even lasted into penalty corners was a surprise for most onlookers as the Panthers dominated the first half with a 5-0 shots advantage. Foxcroft reversed the momentum in the second half by increasing its defensive intensity and constantly harassing NYA’s better stickhandlers.
The Panthers’ Mariah Farrell made two saves on three shots to notch a shutout during regulation.
Foxcroft goalkeeper Cassie Curtis saved nine of 13 shots.
“Our expectations were high, but I think we went beyond expectations,” said FA senior captain Jennifer Seavey. “We lost to Dexter both times in the regular season and then beat them to get here, so this is a great way to finish this season.”