Losses for the Skowhegan field hockey team are rare — it has averaged no more than a couple a year for the last three decades.

Part of the reason for the team’s unprecedented success — 18 Class A state championships — is its ability to put those rare losses behind it and look ahead.

Perhaps that’s why veteran coach Paula Doughty and her players aren’t dwelling on last year’s loss to Biddeford in the Class A state title game that also ended another bid for one of the team’s many undefeated seasons.

Members of the Mt Blue field hockey team take part in a drill during an Aug. 22 drill in Farmington. The Cougars look to challenge Skowhegan in tough Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A this season. orning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

“We don’t think about it at all,” Doughty said. “We just had a bad day on the wrong day.”

Another good reason to put the loss behind lies in the team’s returning talent. It’s loaded with experienced players who began in Skowhegan’s feeder program by the time they could hold a stick.

“We’re solid pretty much all over,” Doughty said.

And deep, too. Among the returnees is senior midfielder Bhreagh Kennedy, who committed to play for the University of Maine a year ago. She’s surrounded by 15 players who played varsity a year ago, as well as four freshmen. Scoring, as it did a year ago, can come from anywhere. Senior Alexis Michonski and junior Hannah McKenney each topped 20 goals last fall but are by no means the only threats in this explosive offense.

“This team is really quite balanced,” Doughty said. “I like this team because they get along so well.”

Skowhegan is the preseason favorite based on returning talent. But winning regional title is never easy in the Class A North division and the usual array of opponents — Mt. Blue, Messalonskee and Cony — could all make a run at a title.

Mt. Blue has climbed into contention over the last half dozen years and was the team to beat during the regular season two years ago. The Cougars return their entire team intact save for Ellie Pelletier, who graduated. They’re especially strong in midfield led by Molly Harmon and Riley Keaton.

“Our defense is strong and so is our midfield,” Mt. Blue coach Jody Harmon said. “Our biggest problem is finishing.”

That problem is based on a few preseason scrimmages but the team will need to find a way to replace the 25 goals that came off Pelletier’s stick last season. Sophomores Eve Stevens and Natalie Howard will play up front and Harmon says they’ll benefit from the team’s stellar play at midfield.

A year ago, the Cougars lost to Skowhegan in the regional final, an important step since they had bowed out in the semifinals the previous five years. Now there are still a couple more steps to take.

“There’s always a goal to finish it and go all the way,” Harmon said.

Cony continued its rise up the Class A ladder last year with a 10-win season that netted it third place in the division standings. With a high-powered offense, expectations remain high.

“My offensive unit is clicking well early,” coach Holly Daigle said. “We’re creating a lot of scoring opportunities.”

Junior Julia Reny led the Rams in scoring last year, notching at least one five-goal game along with several game-winners. The first-team all-conference selection has some good company in senior midfielder Faith Leathers-Pouliot. The Rams also picked up a talented transfer from Lincoln Academy in Taryn Crummett, who will play up front and so far has fit in well, Daigle said. Senior Sophie Whitney has seen consistent playing time since her freshman year and is another of Cony’s speedy, scoring forwards.

“I’m excited to see how the girls pull everything together,” Daigle said.

The defense has a few more holes, but also returns some proven players in goalie Emily Douglas and center back Anna Reny. Douglas started a year ago and played well while Reny anchors the defense and will at times move up to midfield.

“We have a lot of veteran players coming back,” Daigle said. “They’re self-driven and focused.”

Skowhegan field hockey coach Paula Doughty, right, laughs with players during an Aug. 22 practice in Skowhegan. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Messalonskee graduated nine seniors, including Division I bound Autumn Littlefield, but it’s tough to find anyone who doesn’t believe the Eagles will contend again this season. There’s still plenty of talent but it may take a few games to come together.

“We’re very young,” coach Katie McLaughlin said. “A lot of our defense is new this year, including goal.”

The Eagles will rely heavily on senior o-captains Chloe Tilley and Emily Crowell. Tilley plays center mid while Crowell is the team’s center back and top defender. Senior forwards Riley Poulin and Amy Corbett are also keys to the team’s success. Freshman Nealy Dillon takes over in goal.

Messalonskee will play its home games on its new turf field and McLaughlin says that will help.

“It works more toward the style I teach,” she said.

Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.