WATERVILLE — As long as there are multiple classes, sports fans in Maine will wonder how the lower-class schools would fare against Class A teams.
Thanks to Thursday night’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference games at Thomas College, we know what it takes for the lower-class team to win in field hockey. All you need is a little luck, some perseverance, and a goalie like Winslow’s Delaney Wood.
Playing against Class A Messalonskee, Wood made 16 saves for Class C Winslow, and kept her team’s deficit at one goal long enough for the Black Raiders to strike with goals by Mackenzie Winslow and Sarah Wildes in the final eight minutes, as Winslow pulled off a 2-1 upset in the KVAC runner-up game at the newly-christened Bernatchez Field.
“This was, I think, exactly what (Delaney) needed before we go into playoffs,” Winslow coach Mary Beth Bourgoin said. “I think she needed pressure. She has seen pressure this season, but not to this extent. She’s got great reflexes. I know that she’s had it all along, but it’s great to see her be able to show that. I looked at it as a showcase for her. It was just amazing.”
In the KVAC championship game, Skowhegan defeated Nokomis, 3-1. The Indians took a 2-0 lead by halftime on goals by Renee Wright and Brooke Michonski. In the second half, Taylor Shaw scored on a penalty corner for Nokomis with 16:31 to play, and Skowhegan’s Logan LeBlanc countered with 1:59 left.
“I was very pleased with the second half,” Nokomis coach Katie Thompson said. “We played with them the second half. I think the first half, we came out a little bit intimidated and a little bit nervous, and it showed in our play. Once we figured out, ‘We can play with this team,’ they settled in.”
This is the second year of the “crossover” format for the KVAC field hockey games. Last year’s games were won by the two Class A teams, 6-0 and 8-0.
“The crowds have been bigger,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “We used to have nobody at the KVAC game. We had a great crowd tonight. Both games, I thought, were exciting, excellent games. It was a lot of fun.”
Brian and Amy Bernatchez were honored in a ceremony between the games, and the field was officially named after them. Brian is a 1988 graduate of Thomas, and a member of the schools Board of Trustees. Amy is the director of the Maine Majestix Field Hockey club and won over 100 games as a high school coach in central Maine.
“Tonight,” announcer Bob Moore said, “we recognize their extraordinary commitment to Thomas College by dedicating the field currently known as ‘The Red Field’ in their honor.”
In the runner-up game, play was fairly even in the first half, with a slight edge to Messalonskee. The Eagles led 1-0 at the break on a goal by Brooke Quirion with 19:11 left in the half.
Messalonskee came out blazing in the second half, and Winslow needed some big plays to stay close. Wood stopped a penalty stroke by Messalonskee’s Kylee Knight and denied Emily Hogan on a 1-on-1 breakaway. Winslow sweeper Katie Smith made a defensive save. Winslow back Bethany Winkin played her usual standout game, and broke up a penalty corner with a steal.
But with Messalonskee’s Kristen Kern and Kate Levesque also playing strong defense, it looked like one goal might be enough. Then, with under eight minutes to play, Winslow got back-to-back penalty corners. On the second one, Mackenzie Winslow followed up her own rebound with a goal to tie the game with 7:21 left.
Since this was the runner-up game, there would not have been an overtime had the teams been tied at the end of regulation. Wildes took care of that when she scored with 1:40 to go.
“We did a great job getting it through,” Wildes said. “I saw Brittany (White) hit it through, and it was behind the goalie, so I just swept at it, and it went in.”
Wildes said the Black Raiders main focus was to stay healthy for playoffs, but also to make a statement with a win. Messalonskee, of course, didn’t have that same motivating factor. The Eagles couldn’t make a point with a win, since they were expected to win anyway.
“I think as a team, this definitely wasn’t our best game,” Messalonskee coach Katie McLaughlin said. “I think there’s a lot of hurdles we need to overcome mentally. Winslow’s an excellent, excellent team. We’re great friends with them. It was a great win for them, but I think, definitely a learning point for us. I think the girls will go home, and really think this over, and come out stronger next week.”