The Skowhegan field hockey team had a fast start ready for Messalonskee on Tuesday evening.

And when the situation called for another one, the defending Class A North champions had that in store as well.

Alexis Michonski had a hat trick and Bhreagh Kennedy and Emily Reichenbach added goals as Skowhegan topped Messalonskee 5-2 in the first matchup between the teams on the Eagles’ new turf field.

“This is how field hockey should be played,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “On a turf field, the ball is truer and you can pass more and there’s more skill. This was a very skilled game today.”

And it was one that, for most of its duration, slanted heavily toward the visitors. Skowhegan (5-0) came out strong with a goal within the first two minutes of play, and ended the contest with a 33-4 advantage in shots on goal.

“That’s what we wanted to do. That’s what we planned to do,” Doughty said. “That was our gameplan. It doesn’t always work, but I was glad it worked today.”

“We came into this game knowing that they’re a great team,” Michonski said, “so we made sure throughout the entire game to keep our intensity up.”

And yet, there was a moment when Skowhegan, as is often the case in these matchups, had to sweat. A pair of Michonski goals had Skowhegan ahead 2-0, but Messalonskee (2-2) got its first corner with 5:52 to go in the first half, then got on the scoreboard nine seconds later when Chloe Tilley took the insert and ripped a shot into the netting to cut the deficit to 2-1.

It was part of a five-minute push to end the half during which Messalonskee notched four corners to Skowhegan’s one, and threatened to seize momentum in the second half.

“Messo’s not going to give up. You could be up by 10 goals, and Messo’s still going to be chipping away at you,” Doughty said. “That’s just the way it always is. They have tradition here just like we have tradition.”

Skowhegan began the second half the way it did the first. It got a pair of quick corners, then earned a penalty stroke that Kennedy – dominant in the midfield all game long – calmly shot past goalie Nealey Dillon (28 saves) for a 3-1 lead with 24:12 to play.

“Bhreagh is a big-game player,” Doughty said. “She doesn’t have an ounce of give-up in her.”

The lead grew to 4-1 when the ball was played up and Reichenbach made a move to get it past Dillon and score with 11:31 left. Messalonskee drew within two again when Jenna Cassani knocked in a rebound with 9:23 to go, but Michonski’s third goal, scored when she deflected a pass from the right side from Kennedy, effectively sealed the win with 6:54 left.

“Lexi’s an amazing player,” Doughty said. “And besides being a good player, that kid has the best attitude. She’s just so coachable. No matter what I ask her to do, she’s willing to do it.”

On Tuesday, that was score goals. She put Skowhegan ahead just 1:53 into the game when she gathered a loose ball and knocked it home, and she made it 2-0 with 11:45 to go in the half when she gathered the rebound of a Reichenbach shot and was ready for the redirection.

“When I saw the opportunity to score, I jumped on it,” Michonski said. “I think (the first one) slipped past the goalie a little bit, it hit her a little, and it was just sitting there so I went at it. (The second) was kind of like the first one. It just went by, and I got the opportunity to hit it in.”

Messalonskee trimmed the deficit in half on Tilley’s goal, and coach Katie McLaughlin could sense her players’ mentality changing.

“The girls started believing in themselves a little bit more,” she said. “For that to be 2-1 going into the half really showed them that this is a ballgame, and we can do this.”

Skowhegan didn’t let it happen, however, and put the clamps on the Eagles in the second half.

“They have a great defense between the 25s,” McLaughlin said. “They do a lot of doubling, a lot of pressure, and they’re really great at just stopping you there.”

Still, McLaughlin praised her players, especially Dillon, a freshman whose 28 saves McLaughlin believed might have been a school record.

“I think our girls really played with a lot of heart, and a ton of effort. Effort was never an issue in this game whatsoever, everyone worked their tails off,” McLaughlin said. “It’s early in the season, we have a lot of work to do, but I’m really proud of these girls and how they came out today.”

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