People in the Skowhegan field hockey program sometimes talk about “the great ones.” They’re not just the best players, but ones who care about the team and can often be found working with younger players.
Someone like Makaela Michonski.
“The kids know, the great ones, aren’t just the good players.” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “We’ve had plenty of good players who weren’t great ones. She’s one of the great ones.”
Michonski’s on-field greatness was evident to everyone this fall. After scoring 33 goals as a junior, she scored 48 this season, including the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship game. If you count the KVAC games, Michonski finished her career with 110 goals, which would be a new record in Maine field hockey.
For her remarkable season, Michonski is the choice as the Morning Sentinel Field Hockey Player of the Year. Skowhegan’s Sarah Finnemore and Winslow’s Alli LeClair were also considered.
Michonski was especially deadly this season on Skowhegan’s penalty corners. She would insert the ball from the left side and run to the post. Since she plays ice hockey in the winter as a left-hander, she has developed the ability to “catch” the ball with her stick and guide it into an open part of the cage.
“She’s so smooth — her coordination, and just the way she’s able to tip all those balls into the goal,” Messalonskee coach Katie McLaughlin said. “When there’s tons of pressure around the goal, she’s just able to keep her head in it and put the ball wherever she wants it to go.”
Michonski said she has been working on her tipping since she was a freshman. Coming into the season, she focused on both parts of penalty corners.
“I wanted to work on my corners, on my inserting,” she said. “I wanted to make sure I had a stronger and more accurate insert. I think I met that goal. I wanted to work on my tipping too, and the goals just came along with all of that.”
Skowhegan didn’t have many close games, but Michonski came through in them. In the first meeting against Messalonskee, she had all four goals in a 4-0 win. She had a goal and an assist in the rematch, and added a goal in the state final.
Michonski was also a needed veteran presence on a forward line that was mostly sophomores and freshmen. That forward line did so well that the Indians scored 147 goals, breaking the previous state record by 31.
“Where other people get all wound up, Makaela is always calming,” Doughty said. “All through games, I could hear her talking to (the other forwards): ‘It’s OK. We’re going to be fine.’ I think the reason our forward line came along so quickly is because of her influence.”
Michonski will play at Husson next season. The Eagles play in Division III, and are perennially one of the top teams in the North Atlantic Conference. Doughty feels if Michonski had chosen to go that route, she could have been a standout at a Division I school.
“I know the University of Maine was very interested in her, and I have no doubt I could have sold her someplace else,” Doughty said.
Looking back with regret isn’t Michonski’s style, so she probably won’t regret that decision. She certainly doesn’t regret anything about her field hockey time at Skowhegan.
“It was probably the best four years,” she said. “It couldn’t have gone any better.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243