AUGUSTA — It’s almost gluttony, really, the wealth of attacking options with which the Skowhegan field hockey team can dismantle opponents. And, for a team that’s won 18 straight regional championships and is in the midst of another undefeated regular season, it feels like it’s always someone different taking center stage.

Thursday was Kayla Furbush’s day to play the starring role.

The Skowhegan junior scored twice in the second half, each time racing to the right post to redirect a ball home, as the 18-time state champions bounced back from their first deficit of any kind this season en route to a convincing 4-1 win over Cony in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference game. Breagh Kennedy and Emily Riechenbach also scored for Skowhegan (9-0), thwarting a magnificent 18-save effort from Cony senior goalie Emily Douglas in the process.

Cony’s Sophie Whitney, left, tries to get the ball past Skowhegan’s Mariah Whittmore during a game Thursday in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

“We got our heads back in the game. It took us a bit to adjust, but we have a never give up mentality,” Kennedy said. “We showed it more in the second half. We were committed to the whole game.”

Cony (5-4) performed nearly flawlessly in the contest’s first 10 minutes, rewarded with Faith Leathers-Pouliot’s goal early to take a 1-0 lead. Buoyed by the quick start, the Rams continued to apply pressure to the Skowhegan cage and forced goalie Mackenzie McConnell into early action.

But the tide turned on Cony, first when Anna Reny was shown a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct, forcing the Rams to compete down a player for a five-minute stretch. The visitors didn’t tie the game during the ensuing run of play, but they did tilt the field dramatically.

With only seconds remaining in Reny’s penalty time, Cony coach Holly Daigle called timeout. That, Skowhegan counterpart Paula Doughty said, was the moment her team needed.

“That was the best thing that happened to us,” Doughty said. “I said, ‘We’ve got to adjust this.’ So, we made some adjustments and it worked out.”

If Cony recovered from that, it did not recover from Kennedy’s tying goal with 3:08 remaining until halftime. The score came on Skowhegan’s 13th shot of the game and eighth penalty corner of the half.

“It’s not one play that can change a team around,” Kennedy said. “It’s just the mindset. We started working harder, we started getting into it. Sure, scoring helps, but it’s not always a single play that turns our game around.”

“I think halftime was really for us where it (changed),” Daigle added. “Sometimes halftime will have that effect on us. We’ve got to play a complete game. Thirty minutes is not enough against a team like this.”

Furbush took it from there, making it look easier than it is to get her stick on long drives from the left side and tapping them home at the near post. She gave Skowhegan its first lead less than three and a half minutes into the second half and then added plenty of breathing room with 13:15 remaining for a 3-1 lead. Both scoring plays were eerily similar.

“It’s not easy at all. I work on it day and night, all the time, just ball on stick,” Furbush said. “I’ve worked hard on (getting to the post). I was really watching the ball onto my stick to make that play. Somedays, I get lucky with it. It was all about my team today, I just got to put it in the cage.”

Cony’s Faith Leathers-Pouliot, left, tries to get around Skowhegan’s Logan WIng during a game Thursday in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

“It shows she got her confidence and was playing her game like she can. It was her game today, for sure,” Michonski said of Furbush. “You’ve definitely got to be born with it, but you’ve also got to practice it every day. I know I couldn’t always tip balls like that. It takes work.”

For a Skowhegan team that had yet to trail at any point this year, there was never a shred of panic — even as chances piled up without the goals immediately following suit.

“This team is laden with seniors, and they don’t have any give-up in them,” Doughty said. “Breagh Kennedy is such a leader. And Alexis Michonski is such a leader. I was just really proud of the kids today.”

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