Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Steve Craig firstname.lastname@example.org
SCARBOROUGH — The Scarborough High senior field hockey players have been waiting for their chance to test themselves against Skowhegan since they were freshmen.
At University of Maine
• CLASS C: Winthrop (14-1-1) vs. Lisbon (16-0-1), 2 p.m.
• CLASS B: Leavitt (14-2) vs. Belfast (14-1-2), 4 p.m.
• CLASS A: Scarborough (17-0) vs. Skowhegan (17-0) 6 p.m.
FIELD HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES AT A GLANCE
At University of Maine
WHO: Lisbon (16-0-1) vs. Winthrop (15-1-1), 2 p.m.
OUTLOOK: A matchup of Mountain Valley Conference teams, they played to a 1-1 tie in the regular season. This is Lisbon's first appearance in a state final. Winthrop graduated just two players after losing to NYA in last year's final, 1-0. The Ramblers are seeking their first title since going back-to-back in 1988-99. Hanna Jordan and Ariana Kahler lead a diversified offense for Lisbon, and senior Bailey Madore is a solidifying influence in the midfield. Winthrop is led by Lauren Kaiser, top scorer Mary Blanchard and midfielder Shauna Carlson. Ramblers goalie Alyssa Arsenault is capable of spectacular saves.
WHO: Leavitt (14-3) vs. Belfast (14-1-2), 4 p.m.
OUTLOOK: Leavitt came out of the West as the third seed, knocking off four-time Western Maine champ York in the regional final. Now it draws defending state champ Belfast, winner of seven state titles. Leavitt is making its first trip to the title game since a four-year run from 1994-97, when it won championships in 1994 and 1996. The Hornets will be without their top back, Annie Castonguay, who injured her knee against York. The Hornets are an athletic team that tends to play better as the game goes on, and Emily Shaw is a weapon on corners. They showed they could clamp down on a top scorer when they stopped York's Taylor Simpson. Expect Belfast's Maddy Cummings (four postseason goals) to get the same star treatment.
WHO: Scarborough (17-0) vs. Skowhegan (17-0), 6 p.m.
OUTLOOK: This is Skowhegan's 12th straight championship game appearance, and the only Western Maine team to come out on top was Scarborough's 2009 squad, which won 2-1 with a controversial overtime goal. Skowhegan has outscored opponents 144-2 behind the play of Miss Maine Field Hockey candidate Sarah Finnemore and tip-in specialist Makaela Michonski (42 goals). Scarborough has a 60-0 edge on its foes, with top-level players in senior midfielder Grace Whelan, sophomore forward Abby Walker and leading scorer Elly Walker.
"Ever since we beat them my freshman year I've wanted to go back and beat them again," senior captain Karli-An Gilbert said. "They are a great team and it's such an honor to play them, and that's why I'm so excited to get the chance. Skowhegan is known to be that standout team from Maine."
Scarborough, the top-ranked and undefeated team from Western Class A, takes on Skowhegan, the top-ranked and undefeated team from Eastern Class A, for the state title at 6 p.m. Saturday at the University of Maine.
"My freshman year is the year the 2009 team won states against Skowhegan, and ever since then we've idolized that (Scarborough) team," goalkeeper Shannon Hicks said. "This year our coach has compared us to them so many times. It just feels amazing because that's what this Saturday is all about."
Scarborough (17-0) has not been scored on this season and has expunged the bitter taste of last year's shocking quarterfinal loss as the top seed.
Skowhegan (17-0) is riding a 53-game winning streak – not losing since that 2009 loss to Scarborough – and set a Maine scoring record this year with 144 goals. The Indians have won 10 of the last 11 state titles and are in their 12th consecutive state game. They feature two of the premier players in the state – Harvard-bound Sarah Finnemore and scoring sensation Makaela Michonski (42 goals). Defender Adriana Martineau is committed to Maine, and Mikayla Bolduc will go to Connecticut College.
"Ever since we beat them in 2009 we wanted to be back," Scarborough Coach Kerry Mariello said. "We're hoping we can challenge them again, and I think with this team there's no doubt they'll be ready."
Mariello said she believes some teams are afraid to face Skowhegan.
"No doubt. It's definitely intimidating when you win that many titles and you know the level of talent there, but you've just got to go in and channel those nerves in the right way," Mariello said.
Could this be the best team Skowhegan Coach Paula Doughty has had in her 33 years, with its scoring record, top-end talent and having allowed only two goals, both by Messalonskee's Kristy Bernatchez (44 goals)?
"I don't think so," Doughty said. "I mean, this group is exceptional. I can think of about five teams that were outstanding and certainly this was one."
Both teams have done a great job of limiting shots. Goalie Anne-Marie Provencal faced "something like 14 shots in our first 16 games," Doughty said. Hicks saw two in the regional final.
Scarborough has good speed, challenges quickly on restarts, and has shown a knack for clearing balls out of trouble without fouling. Scarborough also uses a deep bench to keep players working at high speed.
"If you're not giving your all, you're coming out. We all know that," senior captain and midfielder Grace Whelan said.
Senior defender Ali Pelczar said she's sure Skowhegan will be her team's greatest challenge but isn't intimidated by the Indians' 144 goals.
"I kind of take that with a grain of salt," Pelczar said. "I know that they don't have a lot of competition in the East. There's a lot of separation between Skowhegan and Messalonskee and the rest of the teams. I'm hoping that we'll be their first big challenge and they won't be ready for that."
While Scarborough's scoring totals aren't as gaudy, it has 60 goals. Elly Walker leads the team with 13. Six other players have at least five: Whelan, a standout player in the open field, sophomores Abby Walker and Maddie Dobecki, seniors Emily Bunting and Katie Granzier, and junior Rachael Wallace.
"They shouldn't be intimidated by us," said Doughty.
"We're used to the process of going to the state game. That might give us an edge, but I have no doubt that Scarborough will be ready."
Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at: