OAKLAND — It’s becoming a tradition: the Skowhegan field hockey team meeting Cheverus for the Class A state title.

The powerhouses will face off for a third straight season after the top-seeded River Hawks claimed a 3-1 victory over Messalonskee in Thursday’s Class A North championship game at Messalonskee High School.

Laney LeBlanc had two goals for Skowhegan after Sydalia Savage provided the opener for the River Hawks. Skowhegan won its 22nd consecutive regional title to advance to Saturday’s Class A state final against the Stags at Lewiston High School.

“It feels great, but we know we want one more,” said Skowhegan’s Layla Conway. “We absolutely (want a third battle with Cheverus). It’s going to be good. They’re a great team, and it feels like a final way to end it.”

Second-ranked Messalonskee (13-4) had the best chance in the early going when an Abby Stevens sent a powerful shot from a tight angle just wide. Skowhegan, though, responded well to the early scare and established possession in the opposing half immediately after.

With two minutes left in the opening quarter, that possession paid off for Skowhegan (16-1). LeBlanc blasted a shot off the post with the rebound immediately falling to Savage, who launched a rocket of a shot past Messalonskee goalie Adriana Pettengill to the bottom-left corner to give the River Hawks a 1-0 lead.


Although Messalonskee got back into the game a little bit in the second quarter, the Eagles’ lone shot on goal in the period was saved with ease by Michela Provost. Skowhegan regained offensive pressure and made it 2-0 a minute before the break as LeBlanc beat Pettengill with a rocket at the near post.

Messalonskee’s Chloe Massey attempts to get around Skowhegan’s Kaylee Bruce (3) in the Class A North Field Hockey championship game Thursday November 2, 2023 in Oakland. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

LeBlanc made it 3-0 with 4:28 left in the third quarter with a goal even more breathtaking than her first. Maneuvering her way through the Messalonskee defense with impeccable stickwork, the senior Miss Maine Field Hockey finalist created space out of nothing and found the cage from close range.

“I just had the momentum going forward, and I knew that we had to win,” LeBlanc said. “I think, as a team, we were really focused today. We got here early, and we said, ‘OK, we need to get ready, we need to listen to music, we need to work as a team, and we need to focus on our goals,’ and I think we met those goals.”

Sophia Ventimiglia scored for Messalonskee with 9:40 left in the fourth, snapping Skowhegan’s streak of 11 straight games without allowing a goal dating back to Sept. 18. That would be a mere footnote, though, as the River Hawks weathered the Eagles’ lone remaining push forward to reach yet another state final.

The win was the rubber match between Skowhegan and Messalonskee, who split both regular-season games this season with the Eagles winning 2-1 in overtime Sept. 14 and the River Hawks prevailing 1-0 on Oct. 14.

Messalonskee pushing hard even as Skowhegan looked to have the game in hand, Conway said, was no surprise.

“They have great passing, they have some girls with great speed, and they really play as a team with a lot of heart,” said Conway, who was also named a Miss Maine Field Hockey finalist along with LeBlanc. “It was all about attitude. We wanted it more, and we got it done.”

Now comes Saturday’s rematch with Cheverus. After the Stags beat Skowhegan 4-1 in the 2021 state title game, the River Hawks got them back last year with a 3-2 victory. It’s exactly the matchup Conway and LeBlanc pictured to end their high school field hockey careers.

“We have one practice left, and then it’s (the state game), so we’re going to work as hard as we can,” LeBlanc said. “Us seniors, we’ve got this; we’re going to do whatever it takes to win another championship.”

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