The Skowhegan High School field hockey team doesn’t have any senior starters. There are just two on its 24-player roster.
But that hasn’t stopped the Class A powerhouse from going undefeated and roosting in its usual spot atop the Class A North Heal Points Standings. The River Hawks are not only 14-0, they have outscored their opponents 71-2 as they await the playoffs.
The Skowhegan program, one of Maine’s top all-time high school sports dynasties, is gunning for its fifth state title in six years, its 17th in 20 seasons and the 20th overall under Maine Sports Hall of Fame coach Paula Doughty. If they reach the state final, it will be the 20th consecutive year they have done so.
Doughty is in her 42nd year as a head coach and she said this has been one of the most enjoyable seasons of her career, saying she has a great bunch of assistant coaches in Tammie Veinotte, Kim Leo, Julie Lajoie, Fawn Haynie and Megan Smith, who are “different people with different interests and personalities.”
“The players all feel they have a voice and someone they can go to,” she said.
The River Hawks have scoring balance and depth with two sophomore catalysts in midfielder Laney LeBlanc and forward Layla Conway. LeBlanc, the daughter of Skowhegan girls basketball coach Mike LeBlanc, is considered one of Maine’s best players by Doughty.
Doughty said she doesn’t have one or two primary scorers but a half dozen or more with seven or eight goals apiece, making them hard to defend. LeBlanc’s midfield partners include sophomores Masyn Atwood and Gemma Kennedy and freshman Sydalia Savage, while Conway is complemented up front by juniors Ellie Quinn, Kate Kelso and Norie Tibbetts.
The formidable back line includes juniors Samantha Thebarge and Callaway LePage and sophomores Jayla Gentry and Savanna Michaud. LePage is the sweeper. The goalkeeping duties have been shared by junior Lanie Vanestine and sophomore Gwyn Turgeon. Junior Riley Enright is a junior midfielder-back and sophomore Paige Gilbert is a forward.
But the coach said the road to another state championship won’t be an easy one. Her team had competitive games with Messalonskee of Oakland (2-0, 4-1 wins) and one with Mt. Blue of Farmington (3-1) and she said Mt. Ararat of Topsham and Brunswick are “better than ever.”
“This is the most balanced I have ever seen it,” Doughty said. “Everybody is good.“
Skowhegan will still be the team to beat. It is every season.