Skowhegan senior Leah Savage scarcely knew a field hockey ball from a baseball when she first donned goalkeeper’s equipment two years ago.

“Coming in last year I didn’t know anything about field hockey,” she said. “I think I had seen one game in my life.”

Savage joined the team her junior year after some of her friends on the team said the Indians needed a goalie. That was fine with coach Paula Doughty who has a history of recruiting athletes for the position. And Savage is an athlete.

She participated in gymnastics for 13 years and is a key member of the track and field team, competing in the 100 meter dash, relays and all the jumping events. Big, strong and agile fit Doughty’s criteria for the position.

“Her physical prowess is her biggest strength,” Doughty said. “She can do flips all the way down the field with her stuff on. Her mental toughness and sense of calm is another extraordinary feature.”

Savage played a key role in leading the Indians to their 16th straight appearance in a state championship game when she came up big in the regional final in a 3-1 win against rival Messalonskee.

“She was freaking amazing,” Doughty said. “She had three dives (for saves) in a row and was back on her feet in a half a second.”

Skowhegan will try for its third straight Class A state title and its 15th in 17 years when it faces Southern Maine champion Westbrook.

Savage worked with volunteer assistant Fawn Haynie the past couple of years and has shown rapid improvement.

“She’s been really helpful,” Savage said. “It’s a big mental position. I was nervous at first, now I have a much more aggressive approach. I have more control when I’m aggressive.”

Because of Skowhegan’s talent and offensive prowess, Savage goes long stretches of time without seeing a shot, but she gets up for important games and thrives on action.

“I like the big ones,” she said, “basically every game we play Messalonskee and Mt. Blue.”

When she is scored upon, she shrugs it off which Doughty says is vital for any good goalie.

“You’ve got to get over it quick and move on,” Savage said.

Because she started her field hockey career so late, Savage has escaped notice of many college coaches who might otherwise see her at an off-season festival.

“I’m trying to get somebody to recruit her,” Doughty said. “I have not seen a high school goalkeeper that compares to her. Savage is the whole package.”

Doughty, who has been coaching 35 seasons was not just talking about this year, but past years that included many of her goalies who went on to Division I schools.

Savage said she has fallen in love with the sport and her position and would like to play in college. She plans to play for the Maine Majestix this fall and compete in a Festival in Florida.

“I love it,” Savage said of goalkeeping. “I think it’s really exciting. It’s a lot of pressure.”