OAKLAND — If the Skowhegan field hockey players and coaches had their way, every game they play would be on turf.

Skowhegan’s home field is fairly close to turf, but the road games are often on somewhat slower fields — like Monday’s contest with Messalonskee. In that case, the Indians have to adjust, and they did that magnificently.

Skowhegan scored less than seven minutes into the game and tacked on two more goals before halftime. Messalonskee didn’t get closer than two goals in the second half, and the Indians came away with a 4-2 victory.

“We have a game plan on turf, and we have a game plan on grass,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “We practice on both, and on the bus, before the game, we just change our mind set: Today, you play old-fashioned field hockey. You drive it, and you run after it.”

With the win, Skowhegan (14-0) clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern A playoffs. But since the Indians and Messalonskee (11-2-1) are likely going 1-2 and the Eastern A final is at a neutral site, all it really affects is matchups in the playoffs.

Still, there was a lot of emotion at the game. Skowhegan went up 1-0 with 6:21 elapsed when Makaela Michonski pushed the ball in after a scramble, but the Eagles came back just more than two minutes later, when Mara Balboni’s nice centering pass set up Emily York for an easy goal and a 1-1 tie.

The good news for the Eagles was that they also scored on their next penalty corner. The bad news was that didn’t come until more than 37 minutes later. That was too long for Skowhegan to go without any scoring chances, and the Indians cashed in.

First, Skowhegan scored on a corner, as Sarah Finnemore took the inbounds pass from Jessie Skillings on the left side and fired a shot at the right post. Haley Holt was waiting and deflected the ball in for a 2-1 Skowhegan lead with 13:21 to go in the half.

The back-breaker came with 2:45 left in the half. Skowhegan’s Erica Blake sent the ball into the circle, and Michonski guided a pass to Skillings, who scored to put the Indians up 3-1 at the half.

“I think the key to all of us clicking is really talking, because it helps a lot with communication,” Holt said. “It makes a big difference.”

Messalonskee coach Katie Gorham said her team’s communication broke down a little bit on Monday. The Eagles fell behind 4-1 less than five minutes into the second half when Holt deflected in a pass from Finnemore.

“They’re very used to the other team scores, and then we come back within a minute or two with our own goal,” Gorham said. “I think when that didn’t happen after Skowhegan’s second goal, that’s when everybody got real nervous. They’ve got to keep that tenacity throughout the whole game, regardless.”

Messalonskee got the game’s final goal on an individual effort by Kristy Bernatchez on a corner with 14:15 left. The Eagles had a few more chances and played better the rest of the way, but it was too late.

“I think they definitely lost some of their fundamentals today and let their nerves take over,” Gorham said. “Did they do awful? No. Their second half was much better. We’re not going to make any excuses for ourselves. This was not our best game. We’re going to do better and make some adjustments for next time.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

 


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