FALMOUTH — There were no dramatic rallies, no late goals, no heroics in the closing minutes. There was no need.

It’s another state championship for the Skowhegan Area High School field hockey team. And the Indians never left much room for doubt that it would be.

Olivia Hatch and Julia Steeves scored goals and the defense was stifling throughout the afternoon, lifting Skowhegan to a 2-1 victory over South champion Westbrook in the Class A state championship game Saturday at Falmouth High School.

That’s now three straight championships for the Indians, 18 overall and 15 in the last 17 years. And though it wasn’t perfect — Westbrook had its chances to rally in the second half — Skowhegan rarely seemed to lose its grasp on adding to its staggering collection of hardware.

“It’s just really exciting,” said Hatch, a sophomore forward and one of the Indians’ many underclassman contributors. “We worked hard as a team all year, so it’s exciting to be here and winning.”

Indians coach Paula Doughty wasn’t overjoyed in the moments following the win, a muted reaction that stemmed from Skowhegan’s lukewarm second half. Nonetheless, she took satisfaction from her team’s accomplishment, calling the opportunity to play for the state title a “privilege.”

“I’m really proud of our kids,” she said. “To get through the schools that we did to get here, and play a great school like Westbrook, this is a real honor for us.”

It felt like Skowhegan’s afternoon from the start because the Indians (17-1) ensured it would be. As it did in the A North final victory over Messalonskee, Skowhegan started strong and established possession in the Westbrook (14-5) end, generating chances and rarely letting the Blue Blazes mount an attack down the other end of the field. The Indians outshot Westbrook 6-1 in the first half, and didn’t allow a penalty corner until 1:44 remained in the game.

“I thought we just worked really well together,” junior back Lizzy York said. “We just did the little things right. … Marking, keeping your eye on the ball, and working off of each other all the time.”

“The first half, I really thought we played our game pretty well,” Doughty said.

It didn’t take long for that dominance to translate on the scoreboard. The teams were just over three minutes into the game when Hatch gathered a ball sent in by freshman Hannah McKenney, then whipped a shot from the left side that glanced off a Westbrook defender and into the cage for a 1-0 lead with 26:46 to go in the half.

“I’m just a sophomore, so I was really excited to start that game off with a goal,” Hatch said. “It just felt like a big moment for me.”

Skowhegan leaned on its veterans for the second goal. Junior Maliea Kelso played the ball in from up top to Julia Steeves after hearing the call from the senior captain, and Steeves tipped it into the cage from in front with 10:37 to go in the half.

“In the beginning of the game, we were confident we’d come out and control the game,” she said. “But after two goals, you definitely feel more (in control).”

Skowhegan was in command, but the Blue Blazes weren’t finished. Westbrook put six shots on goal in the second half, finally getting through the airtight Indians defense and challenging Skowhegan’s daunting lead.

“Every free hit, they just take them quick, and they take them hard,” Westbrook coach Theresa Hendrix said. “We weren’t quite sure what we were in for. Once we kind of made those adjustments on how they played and what we saw, the girls were able to get a little bit of confidence and start playing our game.”

The Blue Blazes broke through with 22:22 to go in the game. A Leah Savage (five saves) stop resulted in a scrum in front of the cage, and Mary Keef flipped the ball into the goal to cut the gap to 2-1.

It wasn’t Westbrook’s last threat. Savage made another stop on Keef’s shot from up close with 18:38 to go, and Maddison LeBeau had a shot off the Blue Blazes’ only corner that went wide right with 1:44 to play.

“I do think we tried to sit on our lead a little bit in the second half,” Doughty said. “I don’t think they planned on it. I just think that’s what happened. … A state championship is a big deal, you know, and the fear of losing it, I think they feared it a little bit.

“But we kept it together, we made some good moves in the second half, and key players stepped it up.”

Ultimately, the hole was just too deep to climb out of. Westbrook had a final gasp with 30 seconds to go, but hit the ball directly to a Skowhegan defender, allowing the celebration — yet another one — to begin on the Indians’ sideline.

“(There are) so many emotions right now,” Steeves said. “I’m so happy, I’m so proud. I love my team so much. We really had to come out and compete today.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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