ORONO — There are high school sports dynasties … and then there is Skowhegan High field hockey.

The Indians reclaimed the Class A field hockey state championship Saturday, defeating Thornton Academy 3-1 at the University of Maine.

Skowhegan dominated the first 48 minutes, holding the Trojans without a shot, then held on for its 13th title in 15 years and its 16th overall.

“We expect a lot,” said Skowhegan Coach Paula Doughty. “Sometimes the younger coaches think I’m getting soft, but we’re very old school. We have a good work ethic and we have a lot of responsibilities. We’re big on routines and expectations, and I think in the long run it pays off.”

Skowhegan (16-2) lost last year’s title game to Scarborough with 2.1 seconds remaining.

The Trojans (15-3) were playing in their first state final.

“This means everything,” said Haley Thebarge, a junior midfielder for Skowhegan. “After the way it ended last year, we wanted it so badly this year. And we played our hearts out for it.”

Skowhegan took a 2-0 lead in the first half on two Brooke Michonski goals. She scored with 15:39 remaining when she controlled a long hit by Maliea Kelso behind the defense in the circle and beat goalie Isabella Capozzi, one-on-one.

Then Michonski made it 2-0 with 2:11 left, carrying the ball down the right and scoring through a screen.

But it was the defense that carried the play. The Indians used effective stick blocks to blunt many Thornton rushes, or simply cut passes off with great anticipation.

“Give credit to them,” said Thornton Coach Lori Smith. “They’re fundamentally really sound with their block tackles. We weren’t releasing soon enough, so they just lay their stick down and block tackles. We had a lot of turnovers.”

Grace Pickering, a Thornton senior midfielder, said it was the toughest defense the Trojans faced. “Sometimes we rely on breakaways to get our momentum going,” she said, “but they have really strong block tackles and that’s what shut us down.”

And if a Thornton player got past a defender, there was usually another defender right behind.

“We just had each other’s back,” said Thebarge. “One girl misses, another comes in. That’s how we do it. It’s a team game.”

Thornton stayed close because of its defense, especially on penalty corners, where Ali Ouellette and Pickering continually broke up plays. Sweeper Grace Decker played a strong game and Capozzi made big saves.

The Trojans finally got a shot, and it led to their goal. Libby Pomerleau broke down the left and was stopped by goalie Leah Kruse, but Taylor Ouellette was there to knock in the rebound – her fifth goal in the last three games – with 11:28 left.

Doughty quickly called a timeout. “Your heart flutters,” she said. “I called the timeout just to settle them. That stuff happens. You just have to get settled. And I think they did.”

“We knew we would have to come out even stronger,” said Michonski. “And I think that’s what we did to win the game.”

Lauren LeBlanc then scored with 6:46 left for the Indians.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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