Skowhegan High field hockey players run toward their fans with the championship plaque after winning the Class A North title on Wednesday at Gardiner High. The River Hawks defeated Oxford Hills, 3-2 in overtime. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Her team lost to Cheverus in the Class A field hockey state final last year. So surely Skowhegan Coach Paula Doughty stewed throughout the offseason and start of this year, waiting for a chance for payback against the Stags, right?

Not so much.

“I started thinking about it (Wednesday) night at 8 o’clock,” she said. “Probably people talk about it. Do I talk about it? No. Do I think about it? No.”

People certainly talk and think about it. Saturday’s state final looms as one of the most anticipated games in years, a rematch Maine’s field hockey community has been expecting since the final whistle last season.

Cheverus is 17-0, and spent this season showing it had no peer in Class A South while scoring 138 goals and allowing only five. Skowhegan has the same record, along with a 104-4 goal differential.

But that’s where the similarities end, at least historically, between the programs. Cheverus won its first state championship last year. Under Doughty, Skowhegan has played in every state championship game since 2001, winning 16 titles during that stretch.


The rematch is one of three field hockey state finals scheduled for Saturday at Messalonskee High in Oakland. In Class C, South champ Winthrop (15-2-0) will face MCI (13-3-1) at 11 a.m. in another title game rematch. The Ramblers beat MCI, 3-2, to win the 2021 championship. At 1 p.m., Freeport (13-3-1) matches up against North champion Lawrence (17-0) in the Class B final. The Cheverus-Skowhegan game follows at 3 p.m.

The Stags defeated Showhegan, 4-1, in the 2021 championship game. Coaches and returning players on both sides insist they haven’t been looking ahead to the rematch.

Lily Johnson, left, of Cheverus and Skowhegan’s Jayla Gentry battle for control of the ball during the 2021 Class A field hockey state championship game in Augusta. Both players return for the title game rematch on Saturday. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“It’s never been our focus. It really hasn’t,” said Doughty, the Skowhegan coach since 1981. “I don’t listen (to chatter). … I don’t do Twitter and all that stuff. I’m pretty focused at what I do, and I’m old school. I don’t get engaged, drama is not my thing.”

Theresa Arsenault, the Cheverus coach since 2019, struck a similar tone.

“They’re just another team,” she said. “I know the history with them and all that, but we really don’t look at it that way. We look at them as our next competition and a great chance again to see where we’re at.”

Cheverus senior back and captain Maddie Fowler agreed.


“I think we always had the end goal of hopefully making it to states again,” she said, “but we were just taking it game by game and trying to focus on that. … Playing Skowhegan definitely gives us the extra drive, but just playing at states in general is such an honor for this team.”

Now that the matchup is here, however, players acknowledge a buzz to the showdown.

“There’s definitely a lot of emotions going into it,” said Skowhegan senior forward Norie Tibbetts, one of three captains, along with Samantha Thebarge and Callaway LePage. “I think we’re feeling a feeling of readiness. Last year, we went into the game not really knowing who they were, not really knowing what we were getting into. We just kind of expected to win. This year, we’ve been preparing and working hard every single day since last year.”

Doughty acknowledged as much.

“This team and these coaches have worked harder than any team I’ve ever had,” she said.

The task ahead of the River Hawks is great. Cheverus has rolled all year, scoring at least five goals in every game. Lily Johnson, Taylor Tory and Olivia McCartney are scoring threats, but the most dazzling player this season has been sophomore Lucy Johnson, whose speed and superior stick skills allowed her to score three goals in the first 17 minutes of the Class A South final, and four overall.


“She’s amazing,” said Cheverus senior back and captain Elle Cooney. “It’s a very calming feeling to know that she’s on my team. She and her sister just control the field. … When I see Lucy take it up, I (think) ‘It’s going to be all right.'”

Cheverus players run to their student section with the championship plaque after beating Windham, 6-0, on Wednesday in Biddeford to capture the Class A South field hockey title. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The task of slowing down the Cheverus powerhouse is the primary focus for Tammie Veinotte and Kim Leo, Doughty’s longtime defensive coaches.

“It all comes down to fundamentals. Marking, holding good space, and I think right now we’re working on confidence,” Leo said. “Allowing each team member to recognize their own potential going into the game.”

Veinotte praised the River Hawks’ “grit” this season.

“You stick to your basic fundamentals, you work hard, and our focus is always on teamwork,” Veinotte said. “If anything goes wrong, we all help out and support each other.”

If any team has the ability to do it, it’s Skowhegan, which held Cheverus to two goals in a preseason scrimmage and is going into the game with its belief intact.

“We’ve been right there, and had the same record,” Thebarge said. “They might be the talk, but we know that we can compete with them.”

Tibbetts said the feeling now reminds her of 2019, when Skowhegan faced a Biddeford team it lost to in the 2018 title game and ended up winning the rematch.

“I’m feeling very similar about that right now,” she said. “I know we lost last year, and I guess some could say we’re underdogs, but we’re still Skowhegan field hockey.”

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