WATERVILLE — The four teams in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference field hockey championships got what they came for Thursday night — a tuneup for the upcoming tournament and a chance to play on the turf at Thomas College.

On this night, Class A powers Messalonskee and Skowhegan proved a little too much for Class B Gardiner and Winslow.

Messalonskee built an early lead against Gardiner in the championship game and pulled away for a 6-1 victory for its first KVAC title since 2008. In the first game of the night, Skowhegan spotted Winslow an early goal then roared back for three unanswered in a 3-1 win.

The format changed a couple of years ago so teams that could potentially play one another in the tournament wouldn’t meet. Skowhegan and Messalonskee just met in the regular-season finale Tuesday with Messalonskee completing its first-ever unbeaten season at 14-0-0 with a 3-1 win.

Neither team experienced a letdown for the KVAC games, though.

“We like to take each game just as seriously as any other game,” said Skowhegan senior Brooke Michonski, who scored a pair of goals against Winslow. “You have to go into it with a positive attitude. You don’t know how they’re going to come out, they’re a great team.”

The Eagles got after Gardiner quickly in the title game, scoring four times in the first half, two from Emily Hogan and one each from Ally Corbett and Emily Warren. Messalonskee coach Katie McLaughlin used every available field player in her lineup in the first half and many of them in the second.

“It was a good opportunity to get some younger girls a chance to play in a big game in front of a big crowd,” McLaughlin said.

Warrren and Haley Lowell scored for the Eagles in the second half while Sarah Morgan scored for the Tigers. Hannah Pinney made nine saves for Messalonskee, including three in a big flurry from the Tigers near the end of the first half, while Kaylin Mansir made six saves for Gardiner.

Winslow sophomore Natalie Greene put the Black Raiders on the board with a hard shot from the right side four minutes into the game, but the Indians bounced back and took territorial control of the game. Haley Thebarge evened the score following a penalty corner as the teams went into the half tied at 1. Black Raiders backup goalie Hope Winkin made two key saves in the half to preserve the tie.

“I think it’s really just basically a time for us to see good competition before you go in (the tournament), try different things and try different people,” Winslow coach Mary Beth Bourgoin said. “I used all my kids. They all got a chance to get in and get on the turf and get a feel for it.”

Michonski gave the Indians the lead for good early in the second half when she redirected a pass near the left post into the cage. She added an insurance goal with 12 minutes left.

“We definitely have a lot we need to work on,” Michonski said. “But we are improving each game and I think we’re ready for the tournament.”


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