SKOWHEGAN — For Skowhegan, practice made for a perfect overtime ending to Thursday’s tense Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A field hockey tussle with Mt. Blue.

Senior Brooke Michonski scored 2:10 into overtime to give the Indians a 2-1 win over the Cougars, sending Skowhegan into next Tuesday’s season finale grudge match with unbeaten Messalonskee riding an 11-game winning streak.

Michonski was in the right spot at the right time and knew exactly what to do for the game-winner, punching home a Maliea Kelso rebound of a Mattea Powers shot that squirted under Mt. Blue goalie Erica McArthur.

For Michonski, it was the perfect opportunity to show what she’d learned in practice — finish the play.

“We had practiced that in practice actually, the ball just sitting there and no one getting it,” Michonski said. “We practiced going in and powering through and hitting the ball in the net instead of the ball just sitting there.”

“Brooke is just a really steady kid and she can keep a good perspective and keep the younger kids focused. That was the difference,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty added.

Mt. Blue was looking to avenge another hard-fought 2-1 loss to the Indians on Sept. 10 in Farmington. The Cougars gave up a goal to Julia Steeves less than seven minutes into this contest to fall behind 1-0, then tied it with 4:20 left in the first half when Hannah LeClair knifed a shot past Skowhegan goalie Leah Kruse through heavy traffic in front of the cage.

“We played great,” Mt. Blue coach Jody Harmon said. “We definitely had our opportunities and they just didn’t go in the cage for us. Obviously, it could have gone either way. We even carried play even more on our end with shots and corners. It just didn’t end the way we wanted it to.”

Those opportunities included a late bid by LeClair that just missed finding the upper-right corner as a helpless Kruse looked on.

“I saw it go over my head and I was, like, ‘Oh my gosh, top right corner. No, it’s wide,” Kruse said.

Despite the close call, Skowhegan (12-1-0) was pleased with its defensive effort against the speedy, long-hitting Cougars.

“Everyone stayed on their marks. We dropped back. We switched spots when someone took ours,” Michonski said. “I thought we had a pretty good defensive game, and I think that kept us in it.”

Mt. Blue enjoyed an 11-6 advantage in penalty corners, including an untimed one at the end of regulation when the Indians were charged with a foul with six seconds left. Skowhegan shut that sequence down fairly quickly without a shot, a sign that their young defense is starting to hit its stride.

“It takes a whole season to get a dynamic together,” said Kruse, who had nine saves. “They had a few really good shots, but defensively we really stepped it up today. We did really well on our defensive corners. Our flyer, Lizzie York, she’s amazing. We’re so lucky to have her. I think this game really showed we can come together as a defense and lock it up on corners.”

“In big games, it’s usually the older girls that bring it through,” Doughty said. “I think our problem all year long is we’ve got a lot of young kids on this team, and they’re really outstanding players. In that seven-on-seven (in overtime), we had Maliea Kelso out there, who’s a freshman, and Lizzie York out there, who’s a freshman. You don’t see a lot of seven-on-sevens with two freshmen.”

Mt. Blue (8-4-1) heads into Tuesday’s season finale at home against Oxford Hills assured a spot in the top four in Northern Class A — meaning it will host a quarterfinal — and will head into the playoffs bolstered by the knowledge that its two losses to Skowhegan and one loss to Messalonskee were by just one goal each.

“We’re ready for that opportunity, for sure,” Harmon said.

Skowhegan, meanwhile, now looks to an opportunity to even the score with Messalonskee, which won the last meeting, 3-0, on Sept. 4. That will also determine whether they begin defense of their regional title as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.

Regardless of their position in the final Heals, the Indians believe they are jelling at the perfect time.

“Since I’ve been here, this is the biggest mix of ages we’ve had with freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors,” Kruse said. “We’ve stepped up as the season has gone on, working together with a new dynamic. You can only do so much in the off-season. You have to make sure everyone is focused at practice.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.