SKOWHEGAN — Another year, another trip to a regional final for the Skowhegan field hockey team.

Battling with a one-goal lead to start the second half, the River Hawks pulled away with two goals in the third quarter to beat Messalonskee 4-1 in a Class A North semifinal on Friday.

“It’s amazing (going to regionals),” said Skowhegan sophomore Layla Conway, who scored two goals.

Top-ranked Skowhegan (16-0-0) will meet the winner of the Mt. Ararat-Oxford Hills semifinal on Wednesday. It won’t be just any old trip to the regional finals for the River Hawks, as it will be a first-time experience for more than half their roster, a group of sophomores and freshmen who have made a major impact this season.

“From the beginning to (the playoffs), we’ve just grown so much,” Conway said. “We’re playing so much better together than we have been last year and even the beginning of this year. We’re just kind of clicking as a team.”

No. 5 Messalonskee finishes at 11-6-0.


The River Hawks and the Eagles met twice during the regular season, both won by Skowhegan — 2-0 on Sept. 23, then 4-1 on Oct. 13.

“We knew they were going to come ready to play,” Conway said. “It was really just about who wanted it more in the end, and we did.”

Both teams battled in the first half Friday. The first quarter seemed to be a case of feeling out what the opponent was going to do, ending with a 0-0 score.

Messalonskee goalie Nealey Dillon (34) eyes the high ball as Skowhegan’s Layla Conway, center, leaps to attempt to deflect the ball into the goal in a Class A North semifinal game Friday in Skowhegan. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“The first (quarter) of this game, I was nervous,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “I’m never nervous with this group because they’re really confident kids. But going into (the game) today, they were just so quiet. And I’m like ‘What’s going on?’ It made me nervous. But they came out of it and they played well.”

Action picked up in the second quarter, with Skowhegan striking first on a tip-in by Conway. Six minutes later, Messalonskee responded with a goal of its own, tying the game on a score by senior back Francesca Caccamo. The tie didn’t last long, however, as Conway scored her second goal a minute later, giving the River Hawks a 2-1 halftime lead.

“Messo’s always good. Messo’s always a good team,” Doughty said. “I thought Messo adjusted well to us, then we adjusted back. But Messo played a strong game.”


“We know that Skowhegan likes to play a big ball game, look for those big hits as soon as they go on the attack,” Messalonskee coach Katie Brann said. “Really, thinking about our backfield stepping up for interceptions was a really big goal for today. We did that well in the first half, that generated a lot of attacks, so I was excited about that.”

Skowhegan kicked its game into another gear in the third quarter, putting constant offensive pressure on Messalonskee. Laney LeBlanc and Gemma Kennedy added goals late in the quarter for the final score.

Despite the loss, Messalonskee goalie Nealey Dillon turned in an impressive performance, making multiple diving saves to keep the game close.

“Nealey was awesome, she really stepped it up today,” Brann said. “Overcame some nerves to have a standout performance.”

Likewise, Doughty was impressed with Skowhegan’s defensive performance, led by goalie Lanie Vanadestine.

“The defense, I thought, played amazing,” Doughty said.

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