You don’t have to remind the Westbrook High field hockey coaches and players of their challenge Saturday when they face Skowhegan in the Class A state championship game at Falmouth High.

Skowhegan has set a remarkably high bar for field hockey excellence. The Indians are playing in their 17th consecutive state championship game, having won 14 of the past 16 titles.

“Ever since I was in high school, Skowhegan has been the team,” said Theresa Hendrix, Westbrook’s co-head coach. “This is going to be a great experience for our team.”

Westbrook (14-4) is making its first appearance in a state championship game since 1980, when the Blue Blazes defeated Cony, 2-1. Skowhegan (16-1) is making its 23rd appearance since 1991.

But Skowhegan Coach Paula Doughty said none of that matters. “I think anybody can beat you,” she said. “I think you have to go into any type of encounter totally prepared. It’s my job to make sure that happens.”

Westbrook enters the championship game with confidence. “When these girls were in middle school, they were the top team (in their league),” said Hendrix. “That group was finally together for a year of high school (in 2016), and we had a strong group of seniors. We knew this year could be special for them.”

While the Blazes had some bumps during the regular season, they found the right combination in the playoffs, especially in wins over Massabesic in the regional semifinals and over Biddeford in the regional final. “Once you’re in the playoffs, you have to make those little adjustments,” said Hendrix. “The things that went well for you, you keep them. And then you make those little changes.”

Junior forward Avery Tucker has a school-record 20 goals, along with nine assists. Sophomore Mary Keef (10 goals, seven assists) and Morgan LeBeau (nine goals, four assists) aid the offense. Senior midfielder Maddison LeBeau, who controls everything from her position, has six goals and 15 assists. Junior goalie Kim Goddard has nine shutouts and 86 saves on 102 shots.

Both Class A teams have strong senior leadership. Doughty spoke highly of her four senior captains – forward Julia Steeves, backs Haley Carter and Alexis Vashon and goalie Leah Savage. “Like all good leaders, they lead by example,” Doughty said.

CLASS B

There’s no shortage of championship game experience between York and Maine Central Institute. York (14-2-1) has won the last three Class B titles and has played in 12 of the last 14 state finals, and MCI (13-3-1) is coming off back-to-back appearances in the Class C final.

“We won’t go into it not knowing what to expect,” said MCI Coach Nancy Hughes. “When you reach that level, you have to battle and play every second of the game like it’s the last game you’re going to play.”

Still, no one was quite sure what to expect from York this year. The Wildcats entered the season with a 54-game winning streak but graduated eight players, including Player of the Year Lily Posternak. The streak reached 58 games before losses to Greely and St. Dom’s, which is playing in the Class C final.

“Once we felt the feeling of loss, we worked even harder to finish the season strong,” said junior defender Emlyn Patry.

York Coach Barb Marois said losing all those players from last year didn’t mean the Wildcats couldn’t compete.

“It’s still team hockey, it’s still a game where everyone has to play,” she said. “It can’t be just a few people, it’s got to be a collective team effort. Whatever players you have on the field, if they can play as a team, that’s going to give you the advantage.”

York is led by Sydney Bouchard with 11 goals and seven assists, followed by Jessa Smith with eight goals and 12 assists.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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