SKOWHEGAN — It happens every fall. The days grow shorter, the nights get colder and the Skowhegan field hockey team heats up.

It’s become a rite of passage for the Indians to reach a regional final. They’ve won the last 14 in a row and will get a shot at No. 15 after beating third-seeded Cony 6-1 in a Class A North semifinal Saturday.

Second-seeded Skowhegan (14-2-0) will take on top-seeded Messalonskee on Tuesday at Thomas College with the winner advancing to the Class A state championship on Saturday. Cony concludes its season at 11-5-0.

Although there was a spirited battle going on at midfield, the Indians knew what to do when they got the ball into the penalty circle. They scored on two of their first three shots, getting a goal from senior Brooke Michonski with nearly nine minutes gone and another from sophomore Julia Steeves, seven minutes later.

“They’re just intense,” Cony junior Delaney Keithley said of the Indians.”Their defense is phenomenal, they’re always low and they’re always going after the ball like it’s going to be the last chance to go after it.”

The Rams had four consecutive penalty corners midway through the first half but couldn’t put a shot on goalie Leah Kruse. They finished the game with just two shots on goal, getting a goal from sophomore Haley Ward three minutes into the second half. By that time it was 4-1, however, as freshman Maliea Kelso knocked in a rebound just before the half and converted a penalty stroke near the beginning of the second half.

“We have a lot of young kids and they all have a lot of skill,” Skowhegan senior midfielder Lauren Leblanc said.

The Indians put eight shots on sophomore goalie Jackie Carleton in the first half and 10 on sophomore Jess Lee in the second. Lee made her first appearance on the field since sustaining a knee injury Sept.12.

“We played well and we played hard,” Cony coach Holly Daigle said. “We had a couple of lapses in defense and they took advantage of it. They capitalize on opportunities.”

The Rams had difficulty penetrating Skowhegan’s defense once they got over midfield, while the Indians often drove the ball from long distance into the middle with results.

“They take free quick hits and that’s something that we’ve been trying to do all season,” Keithley said. “But they’re just that much quicker and we’re not ready sometimes. But I think we did a good job adjusting to that toward the second half.”

Steeves, who leads a balanced scoring effort by the Indians with 20 goals this season, scored the last two in the final three minutes, the first assisted by Kelso and the second coming on a strong individual move and finish after a nice setup from Michonski.

“She’s a very intelligent player,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said of Steeves. “She follows instructions and does what we tell her to do.”

Both teams are fairly young. Skowhegan will graduate five seniors while Cony loses three in Abby Silsby, Lindsay Watts and Savanna Poulin.

“They’ve had such a huge impact on the rest of this team,” Daigle said. “They’re outstanding.”

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