HAMPDEN, Maine — The Skowhegan Indians were again tested by rival Messalonskee of Oakland on Tuesday night. But the opportunistic Indians continued their remarkable streak of success, using goals from Haley Carter, Julia Steeves and Maliea Kelso to beat the Eagles 3-1 for their 17th straight Class A North field hockey championship.
Kelso’s goal with 10:12 remaining sewed up the win for the top-seeded Indians (16-1), whose only regular-season loss came at the hands of Messalonskee. Skowhegan plays South titlist Westbrook (14-4), a 2-1 winner over Biddeford on Tuesday, in Saturday’s Class A state final in Falmouth.
Skowhegan has won 14 of the last 16 state Class A championships.
Skowhegan has beaten Messalonskee, which finished at 14-3, in eight of the last nine regional title games.
Senior goalie Leah Savage made eight saves, including seven in the second half as the desperate Eagles tried to claw their way back into the game.
She was peppered repeatedly but stood her ground and aggressively cut down the angles. Her teammates also did an efficient job clearing rebounds and getting their sticks in the shooting lanes.
“Leah was freakin’ amazing,” said Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty. “We played excellent defense and our forwards capitalized on their chances. We took advantage of our corners.”
Carter’s first-half goal and Steeves’ early second-half goal had supplied Skowhegan with a 2-0 lead but Autumn Littlefield scored just one minute after Steeves to pull the Eagles within one.
Littlefield nearly tied it with 17 minutes left but her blast off a Megan Quirion pass sailed just wide.
Carter opened the scoring just five minutes into the game off a penalty corner, giving the Indians a lead they would never relinquish.
Steeves fed her the ball, then Carter stick-handled around a defender to get into a shooting lane before ripping a low shot into the far corner.
Messalonskee outshot Skowhegan 8-2 in the first half but the Indians, led by Carter in the back, did a nice job limiting the Eagles’ high-percentage scoring opportunities.
Seven minutes into the second half, Skowhegan extended its lead. Steeves, with her back to Messalonskee goalie Julia Vigue, directed a Hannah McKenney pass into the cage.
“The goalie was right behind me and I deflected it between the goalie’s legs,” said Steeves.
But the Eagles responded rapidly.
Littlefield made a slicing run from right to left through the circle after accepting a pass and sailed a reverse-stick shot past Savage.
Littlefield and her teammates continued to press for the equalizer but Kelso converted off a penalty corner.
Olivia Hatch took the corner and put it on Kelso’s stick in the middle of the circle.
“I was trying to pass it over to Haley Carter but it went off one of their feet back to me and I figured I’d take the shot,” said Kelso, whose well-placed shot beat Vigue to the goalie’s right.
“This feels amazing,” said Steeves. “It never gets old.”
Steeves also said Messalonskee played very well.
Savage faced 21 shots while Vigue saw 11 and came up with two saves.
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