BATH, Maine — Skowhegan’s veteran defense put it in position to win Saturday’s Class A state field hockey final. A sophomore put the Indians over the top.
Sophomore sweeper Allyssa Salley’s goal off of a penalty corner with 1:17 remaining gave Skowhegan a 2-1 win over Massabesic on Saturday, making it back-to-back Class A state titles and 17 overall for Maine high school field hockey’s supreme dynasty.
“It bounced off a stick and I hit it in,” Salley said. “It feels really good, that’s for sure.”
Salley’s goal came after Massabesic’s Jacklyn Bearse tied the game with 6:28 remaining.
“We work really hard to be able to accept when they score, and then push back really hard so we can score again,” Salley said.
“We didn’t play our game today, I didn’t feel,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “We just came off three really big games and had the last couple days to get refocused. It certainly wasn’t the same game we’ve played the last three games, but we did what we had to do to get it done.”
After Maliea Kelso’s goal put it up 1-0 midway through the first half, Skowhegan (14-3-1) clinged to the lead for much of the second half, withstanding five Massabesic (13-4-1) penalty corners that seemed to come in succession in the final 15 minutes.
“They’re a wonderful little team,” Doughty said. “We don’t see those guys all year long, so we really don’t even know what to expect. I think maybe it’s easier to play what you know. But they’re a wonderful team.”
“Lately, a lot of our practices we’ve been focusing on defensive corners, because early in the season, that was one of our weaknesses,” senior sweeper Rylie Mullin said.
Mullin and fellow defenders Haley Carter, a junior, and Haley Theberge, a senior, helped goalie Leah Savage (three saves) keep the Mustangs at bay until Bearse got her stick on Morgan Pike’s shot to beat Savage and score the equalizer.
“If we had just gotten one more corner to get some of their defenders out of the game, it might have made the difference. And it ended on their corner,” Massabesic coach Michele Martin-Moore said. “I’m very proud of the girls. They just kept believing in themselves. They came so close to sending it to overtime, and we’re pretty good in overtime.”
“It’s hard because when you get that close, you’re going against tradition, too,” she added. “But the girls weren’t afraid of that tradition.”
The Indians’ defense was fearsome enough.
In the first half, Skowhegan’s mids and forwards pressured the Mustangs relentlessly to hold them without a shot until the 24th minute.
“In tournament time, that’s all we basically work on is defense,” Doughty said. “We know that if you’re going to be playing us in the tournament that you’re going to have a pretty good offense, and so we work on defense over and over and over. It got us through.”
Kelso, another sophomore, got a shot through Mustangs goalie Madyson Pomerleau (eight saves) after collecting a pass from Julia Steeves to give the Indians a 1-0 lead with 16:13 to go in the first half.
“It definitely helps having a lot of older people on defense, but our new people are just as strong,” Mullin said. “We all work really well together. ”