The three Eastern Maine field hockey championships will be decided today on the turf at the Weatherbee Complex in Hampden. When you look at the teams competing, one thing is for sure: None of them simply got hot at right time. They all capped off outstanding regular seasons by getting the job done in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
These six teams have a combined total of four losses, and all four of those setbacks were to other teams in today’s games.
Foxcroft (15-0-1) and Winslow (15-1-0) will get things started at 3:30 p.m. today with the Eastern C final. That will be followed by Skowhegan (16-0-0) and Messalonskee (14-2-0), meeting in the Eastern A final for the sixth consecutive year. The third game of the day, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., pits Nokomis (16-0-0) against Old Town (14-1-1) for the Eastern B title.
Winslow and Foxcroft were two preseason favorites in Eastern C after competing in Class B last fall. Winslow lost only to Eastern B finalist Nokomis in overtime, and Foxcroft had not allowed a goal all season until pulling out a 2-1 victory over Mt. View in the semifinals. Foxcroft was the source of Old Town’s only loss, while Winslow defeated Messalonskee in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference runner-up game.
That’s not it for the similarities. In fact, when Winslow coach Mary Beth Bourgoin talks about Foxcroft, she could be talking about her own team.
“I know that they are a fast team. Very good passing. Very quick to the ball,” Bourgoin said. “They work well as a unit together. Knowing what I found out about them, it sounds very, very familiar to what we are.”
Mackenzie Winslow scored all four Winslow goals in a 4-0 semifinal win over Winthrop, but Brooke Haskell and Sarah Wildes have also scored key goals this season for the Black Raiders. Defensively, Winslow is led by Bethany Winkin, Katie Smith, Alyssa Wood, and one of the state’s top goalies in Delaney Wood.
“I think they’re playing very well, but they’re still not satisfied with everything — which is good,” Bourgoin said.
Messalonskee and Skowhegan have met twice this season. Skowhegan took a 2-1 win at Thomas College in the first meeting. The rematch was actually a more evenly-played game, but the Indians scored twice very early and once very late, and won 3-1. Those are the only two goals allowed by Skowhegan this season, other than the KVAC championship game against Nokomis.
“We definitely want to make sure we work on the little things: Getting clean stops, clean pulls, looking up the field, seeing those open passes and hitting them quickly,” Messalonskee coach Katie McLaughlin said. “I think (the game’s) all going to be about which team’s the cleanest, really.”
Skowhegan is coming off a 3-0 win over Lawrence, which was one of the toughest games for the Indians this season. Skowhegan led 1-0 at the half before wearing down the Bulldogs after the break.
“We executed some really good corners, and I thought the whole team played good defense,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “You can look at it like we went into a little slump when we scored, and you can look at it like we proved we could play defense when we needed to.”
As usual, Skowhegan has several offensive weapons and a brilliant defense. Offensively, Allison Lancaster, Rylie Blanchet, Brooke Michonski, and Renee Wright are all big scorers. On defense, backs Mikayla Toth, Heather Lupo and Holly Lupo and goalie Leah Kruse have all played well when called upon this season.
For Messalonskee, Kassi Michaud, Emily Hogan and Nathalie St. Pierre lead the offense, while Mikayla Turner, Kristen Kern, Kate Levesque and goalie Abby Roberts are defensive standouts. Messalonskee played most of its 1-0 semifinal win over Mt. Blue without right midfielder Sydney Gagne, but McLaughlin said Gagne will be back for tonight’s game.
Nokomis and Old Town have not met this season, and the respective coaches have not seen today’s opponents in action this year. Nokomis is coming off a 4-0 victory over Belfast in the Eastern B semifinals.
“Against Belfast, we had the best game we played this season,” Nokomis coach Katie Thompson said. “My kids could feel the teamwork on the field — the passing, the communicating. It’s a nice time of the year for that to be happening, and I’m hoping it carries over to Tuesday.”
The Warriors are led by their six seniors — Drew Graves, Lindsay Whitney, Kayla Braley, Kelsey Kerstetter, Taylor Shaw, and Kendra Underhill. They’ve scored 43 goals and allowed five. Nokomis has won a lot of games by 1-0, 2-0, and 2-1 scored, but as the Belfast game showed, the Warriors have the potential to be a dynamic offensive team. Nokomis also gave a strong showing on turf against Skowhegan in the KVAC Championship game.
Old Town has a tough goalie in Erica Ogden, a solid center midfielder in Ali King, and a fast, athletic, and talented offense led by Tia Jackson, Kate Rawson, and Brooke Sullinski. Second-year coach Sarah Estes, who played field hockey at Thomas College, said the credit for this season goes to the players, as they kept up their level of dedication through a series of coaching changes over the years.
“I think that’s really the foundation of our success, is the love of the game,” Estes said.
Much like Nokomis, Old Town won consistently without piling up a bunch of blowouts. There was a question of how good the Coyotes were given their schedule, but they answered that question emphatically by defeating a formidable Gardiner team in the semifinals.
“(Nokomis is) obviously going to be a tough team to beat,” Estes said. “We’re ready for a big fight from any team we see.”