Skowhegan’s Elizabeth York, left, and Messalonskee’s Autumn Littlefield play during a game Monday in Skowhegan. The Indians won 2-1. Staff photo by David Leaming

SKOWHEGAN — When you’ve won as many state championships as Skowhegan has, regular-seasons can seem a little insignificant.

But there was plenty of celebrating on the Indians’ sideline Monday after they beat rival Messalonskee 2-1 to complete an unbeaten regular season at 14-0.

“It’s important to me because it’s my first year going undefeated,” said senior Maliea Kelso, who scored the game-winning goal in the first half. “Since I’ve been here every single year we’ve lost to Messalonskee or Mt. Blue. And every other (Skowhegan) team has had an undefeated season, so it means teamwork and everyone sticking together. Ultimately what we get out of the season (is) how much effort we put in.”

The Indians have drawn the top seed in Class A North and will be gunning for their fourth straight Class A state title and 19th overall. Messalonskee stands in fourth place in the division at 8-5 with a game remaining Wednesday against Maine Central Institute.

Both teams played well in an end-to-end game in which the Eagles took a 1-0 lead on a goal from junior Rylee Poulin, eight minutes into the contest. Annie Corbett drew the assist while Autumn Littlefield set the table with a foray into the circle and a shot on goalie Mackenzie McConnell.

“I think our girls came out ready today, ready to work and ready to play hard,” Messalonskee coach Katie McLaughlin said. “Huge props to our goalie Rylie Genest (14 saves). She had some great stops in there, awesome clears.”

The Indians answered six minutes later when junior Emily Reichenbach took a pass from Kayla Furbush and rattled a shot into the back of the cage. Skowhegan appeared to score the go-ahead goal a few minutes later during a flurry in front of Genest but Jenna Cassani stopped a point-blank shot with her stick to keep the score at 1 all.

“She played a phenomenal game back there at sweep,” . . .and kept us in it,” McLaughlin said.

The Indians out-shot the Eagles 9-2 in the first half and 17-6 overall and their pressure eventually paid off when Kelso scored following a penalty corner with 55 seconds left in the first half.

“We set up to do a different corner then I noticed I had a shot but I didn’t know if I had time to take it so I did just like a little flick,” Kelso said. “The goalie (stopped) it so I just followed it in, then I drew the goalie out and I just shot and it hit the left corner.”

McConnell made five saves, but it seemed all of them were tough ones. She twice wandered far out of her cage to stop Messalonskee shots, including beating Littlefield to a potential breakaway pass with 2 minutes, 20 seconds left to play.

Messalonskee’s Annie Corbett shoots against Skowhegan’s Mackenzie McConnell during a game Monday in Skowhegan. Messalonskee’s Rylee Poulin is at right. Staff photo by David Leaming

“I think she’s starting to get more confidence,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “She’s got plenty of skill. I thought she came out and played hard today.”

The Indians — who have outscored their opponents 83-9 this season — maintained a typically torrid pace, utilizing hard drives from distance into the circle.

“Hitting long balls makes the defense spread out and it gives us time to get up the field,” senior captain Lizzie York said. “And then if we don’t get the ball and it goes off the end line it gives us time to recover.”

The Indians will play for the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference title Thursday at Hampden Academy against Cony or Mt. Blue, pending the outcome of Tuesday’s game between those teams.

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