SKOWHEGAN — The Skowhegan field hockey team shook off a slow start — and then Mt. Ararat — in a big way Saturday, rolling into yet another Class A North final.

Laney LeBlanc scored three goals and added an assist to lead the top-seeded River Hawks (16-0) to a 5-0 victory in a regional semifinal game. Skowhegan will meet No. 2 Oxford Hills in the regional final on Wednesday at Gardiner Area High School.

No. 4 Mt. Ararat closed the season 10-6.

It was the second meeting between the two Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference schools, with Skowhegan taking the first meeting 3-0 in September. The game Saturday began in similar fashion, with both defenses standing tall in the early going.

Skowhegan would score the only goal it would need on its first corner of the second quarter. Norie Tibbetts took a return pass from LeBlanc and tucked it inside the left side of the cage to give Skowhegan a 1-0 lead.

“Laney has a really good shot and I typically play on the right, but I’ve been working on the left side for inserts as well as working on keeping my stick down and being ready for it,” said Tibbetts.


“We couldn’t score off the first few corners and then when we executed, we got everyone fired up and worked as a team,” added LeBlanc.

The score remained 1-0 until midway through the second quarter. After a River Hawks corner, LeBlanc dove for a loose ball and tapped it past Mt. Ararat goalie Piper Cohen to give the River Hawks a 2-0 lead entering the half.

Getting the first two goals in the second quarter was crucial, Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said.

Skowhegan field hockey player Ellie Quinn, left, runs ahead of Mt. Ararat’s Lily Anderson during a Class A North semifinal game Saturday in Skowhegan. Eric Maxim/The Times Record

“It’s always important,” she said. “Mt. Ararat has a good team; you don’t make it to the semifinals in Class A if you’re not a good team. You can’t just think you can go out and devour your opponents like you sometimes do, that isn’t going to happen. They were well prepared, it was apparent they studied our corners. After the first quarter, we said we had to do some different things.”

Mt. Ararat coach Krista Chase credited the River Hawks with near-flawless execution on the corners.

“You can study them all you want but they’re going to come out and execute anyway,” she said. “We talked about reading the play and not reacting too quickly, and I think that helped.”


Skowhegan extended its lead on goals from Layla Conway and LeBlanc within the first five minutes of the third quarter, prompting a Mt. Ararat timeout.

“I told them this is a great opportunity to showcase what Mt. Ararat field hockey is all about,” said Chase. “It doesn’t matter what was on the board, we’ve got to play the best we can play, try to put the ball in the cage and just play hard and don’t relent. And I think they really did. We didn’t play intimidated. We didn’t play with our heads down, no matter what the scoreboard said, and there was some really nice things my girls did out there.”

LeBlanc later added her third goal off another loose ball. Skowhegan has now outscored its opponents, 101-2.

Skowhegan’s Laney LeBlanc, left, keeps the ball away from Mt. Ararat’s Phoebe Fitzpatrick during a Class A North semifinal game Saturday in Skowhegan. Eric Maxim/The Times Record

“Skowhegan is just so prolific in their scoring. They get the ball in the circle and they make something happen, and that’s hard to beat,” said Chase.

“The thing is with this team is that we’re very blessed that we have so many kids who can do so many things,” Doughty added. “It’s not like we have two players that can play so we just started putting in different kids.”

Skowhegan enjoyed a 13-2 advantage in corners.

“We’ve been working really hard on our corners lately in practice and executing our corners by having our sticks down and grabbing the rebounds,” said Tibbetts. “That’s what we really try to do with our corners.  Everyone has been working on tipping rebounds, being super low in the circle and executing our corners, and I think we did that today.”

Sweeper Samantha Thebarge, with assistance from Paige Gilbert, Jalyn Gentry and LeBlanc, helped fortify a strong Skowhegan defensive effort.. The River Hawks have not given up a goal since Sept. 13.

“I have a role offensively, but when it comes to defense, I know I have to be there because we know defense wins games,” LeBlanc said.

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