SACO – The goal at the beginning of the season was simple for Marshwood High’s field hockey team: get into the playoffs, something the Hawks hadn’t done – other than the two years of the open tournament – since 1994.

Well, come Saturday, the Hawks will be playing the biggest game in the history of the school’s 43-year-old program.

Tuesday, fifth-ranked Marshwood used two first-half goals by Natalia Bachelder and strong play by goalie Jacquelyn Tworkowski to beat No. 7 Portland 4-1 for the Western Class A championship at Hill Stadium.

In winning its first regional title, Marshwood (15-3) advanced to the Class A state championship game Saturday at Yarmouth High against perennial power Skowhegan, a 2-1 winner over Messalonskee in Eastern Class A. The game time will be determined today.

“I don’t think words can describe how I feel,’’ said Tworkowski, who made four saves. “I don’t even know what to feel. I just know that I’m happy I did this with the group of girls I did.’’

The Hawks, who have won 10 in a row, took control quickly, when Bachelder scored off two penalty corners just 63 seconds apart midway through the first half.

Lindsey Poirer set up the first goal, with 15:23 left in the half, on an inserted pass that Bachelder stopped, then slammed into the far corner.

The second goal, with 14:20 remaining, was set up by Samantha Crosman, who slid a pass to an uncovered Bachelder.

“By her doing that, it proved that we could do this,’’ said Tworkowski. “It got us all going.’’

Indeed, said Lisa Truesdale, the Hawks’ coach – Bachelder’s two goals “made them believe that (winning) was possible. Being the senior veteran that she is, this is all she’s ever dreamed about.’’

The goals, meanwhile, had the opposite effect on Portland, which entered the game on an 11-game unbeaten streak.

“That was tough,’’ said Beth Arsenault, coach of the Bulldogs (12-5-1). “We tried to regroup and we had a couple of chances. But they are so solid.

“They’re fundamentally sound, they spread the field, they execute, they beat us to the ball in the open field.’’

And the Hawks made it tougher when Crosman scored on a rebound during a penalty corner.

That made it 3-0 with 6:03 left in the first half.

The Hawks knew, said Bachelder, that corners would play an important role. “That’s why I knew today I had to get them down right,’’ she said.

Portland’s Raechel Allen scored just 3:50 into the second half, to cut it to 3-1, but Truesdale settled her players down.

“I told them to control the tempo and the ball, to not play scared,’’ she said. And Portland would not score again.

Marshwood’s Melinda Sutton completed the scoring with a rebound goal with 21:13 left to make it 4-1.

“You know, I’m upset that we lost, but the fact that we came this far is great,’’ said Allen.

But it’s the Hawks who have one more game to play – against the team that has won nine of the last 10 state Class A titles.

“We’ve just got to go at it strong and not doubt ourselves,’’ said Bachelder. “We have the talent.’’

Added Truesdale: “Anything is possible. Right now we believe in what we can do.’’

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH