Skowhegan’s Elli Quinn, 17, joins teammates in celebrating after her goal tied the Class A state championship game, 2-2. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Another high school field hockey season has come and gone, and it couldn’t have gone much better for central Maine teams.

For the first time in years, Skowhegan entered the Class A championship game as an underdog, taking on defending champion Cheverus, which had beaten the River Hawks in the state final a year ago. This time, the River Hawks managed to earn redemption, beating the Stags 3-2 to cap a perfect 18-0 season and the program’s 20th Class A title.

It marked the third time Skowhegan avenged a loss in the Class A title game the following season. The River Hawks beat Bonny Eagle 2-1 in 1998 after losing 3-1 to the Scots in 1997. Skowhegan sank Biddeford 3-0 in the 2019 Class A title game a year after the Tigers earned a 4-3 victory over the River Hawks to win the championship

“To me, it was very similar to what we did in 1998, what we did in (2019),” Skowhegan head coach Paula Doughty said. “There was a bunch of years where we lost a game, learned something from that loss and put it together (the following) season. Last year, we were very young. I don’t think anybody believed how young we were. I just had freshmen, sophomores and juniors. None had even been in a state tournament… It was a very different outfit. Last year’s team we just went game after game and got through it. Coming into the (2021) state game, the kids just had no idea (what to expect). I don’t think I personally prepared them well enough.”

Skowhegan certainly had its list of standouts. Junior Laney LeBlanc was named the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A Player of the Year. Layla Conway and Sydalia Savage earned KVAC A first-team honors. But Doughty credited the run to the Class A title as a total team effort.

“We just had a different perspective going into (the season) and we trained differently throughout the year,” Doughty said. “They knew what it was like to play in a state game. The pressure, the press, everything going into it. We just trained in a different way. It was a whole different scene.”


Despite the heavy attention paid to Cheverus, which also entered the state final undefeated, Doughty said the River Hawks never felt like a true underdog.

“I think the press felt that way,” Doughty said. “There was a wonderful quote that one of my captains found from someone in the press saying (Skowhegan) is the underdog (to Cheverus). Basically she said, ‘Well, maybe people still see us that way, but we’re still Skowhegan field hockey.’ It was the best quote ever.”

In Class B, Lawrence atoned for a loss in last year’s regional final and rolled to an 18-0 record and the program’s first state title. The state final was not easy, as the Bulldogs edged B South champion Freeport 1-0. Sophomore Maddie Niles, who broke a program record by scoring 38 goals for the season, scored the lone goal for the Bulldogs just before halftime.

Lawrence field hockey coach Shawna Robinson fist bumps players as they wait for the awards ceremony to start after the Class B final on Nov. 5 at Messalonskee High School in Oakland. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“It was a back flick. I’ve always been practicing that a lot with my mom,” Niles said after the game. “It was a great feeling to accomplish that in a game. … The crowd just goes wild. It’s a great feeling overall, especially to accomplish it with my team.”

Lawrence’s midfield, led by senior Hope Bouchard — who was named KVAC B Player of the Year for the second straight season and was also named a Ms. Maine Field Hockey finalist — was able to shut down the Falcons’ attack.

In Class C North, Maine Central Institute found its way back to the state final despite heavy roster turnover and new coach Terri-Jean Wilkinson leading the program. The Huskies would go 13-4-1, falling one shot short of a Class C title.


That title would go back to Winthrop, which beat MCI 2-1 in overtime for its second straight Class C title. Sophomore phenom Madeline Wagner — who scored 36 goals and 19 assists  — scored the game-winner for the Ramblers, who finished 16-2.

Winthrop’s Brooke Belz, center, leaps for joy after scoring the game-winning goal against Lisbon in double overtime during the Class C South field hockey regional final on Nov. 2 in Biddeford. Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald

“When you have a large number of seniors, we have eight, and nine returning starters from our undefeated team last year, there’s certain expectations that we all put on ourselves and the girls put on themselves,” Winthrop head coach Sharon Coulton said. “That can make things a little stressful, especially when things don’t go your way all the time… (The state game) was such a battle, back and forth, very evenly matched in shots and penalty corners throughout much of the game. (MCI’s goal) was the first we had allowed in the playoffs, and the way the girls responded to it was exactly what you wanted to see. They stepped up, they increased their intensity, they increased their effort…It was exciting.”

Coulton, who won her fourth state championship in a career that dates to 1981, announced before the game this season would be her last. She was quick to praise several Winthrop players, including Mountain Valley Conference all-stars Emma Shuman (first team), Bella Littler (second team) and Izzy Folsom (second team).

“I would give kudos to Bella Littler, she had 20 goals last season and had 22 goals this year,” Coulton said. “Lauren Wood just worked so hard to keep balls in play from that left side. Julia Letourneau in the midfield… And if you look back prior to the 2020 season that we lost (to the COVID-19 pandemic), Winthrop was right in there in the regionals and state championship games for several years before that, and I would give credit to (former head coach) Jess Merrill for that.”


Dave Dyer — 621-5640

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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