Scarborough’s Maddy Dobecki and Kristen Murray combined not once, but twice – and on almost identical plays, no less – in Thursday evening’s Regional Final versus Marshwood, delivering the Storm a 2-0 lead. And though the Hawks’ Lindsey Poirier juiced her squad up with a goal in the late going, Scarborough’s Kristen Levesque squelched their hopes just minutes later, scoring and sealing a 3-1 deal.

So the Storm won A West, grabbed the plaque and the pride – and, more importantly, the opportunity for sweet revenge. They weren’t through yet, after all; they had one more game to go, a matchup that’s denied them, for two straight years, the only trophy worth winning at this level: the state crown.

On Saturday, then, Scarborough boarded a bus and trekked to Thomas College, where they faced off with East reps Skowhegan, a field hockey force of nature who’ve won every single Class A title since 2001(seriously) – except in 2009, when the Storm narrowly thwarted them, 2-1. That was Scarborough’s first championship. 2014 was their second.

Murray proved pivotal in that contest as well, scored the only goal with just 2.1 seconds remaining to put the Storm on top 1-0 – which, of course, is how the game would end and how Scarborough would interrupt the Indians’ astounding streak once again.

“They wanted this badly,” Scarborough head coach Kerry Mariello said after the Regional win, expressing the mentality that’s driven the team all season long, that lifted them past Marshwood and eventually past the Indians. “And they deserved it; they’re a great group.”

Play remained taut through the first 15 minutes of Thursday’s bout – taut, but not exactly even, as the Storm clearly controlled the field. They held the ball largely in Marshwood’s end and generated most of the quality offense, simply needing to wear the Hawks down, to batter them until a chink in their armor emerged. At 14:44, one did: from roughly 20 yards out, Dobecki shuttled the ball forward to Murray, who redirected it powerfully for 1-0.

“When we have the opportunity to get the big hits and the tips, that’s what we do,” said Mariello. “Throwing the goalie off with those type of touches, Kristen’s a master at it.”

“We’ve been on the same team for so long, we work really well together,” Murray said of her connection with Dobecki.

“Our team has such great chemistry that no matter who’s out there, we’re always able to rely on each other,” Dobecki said. “Any play, we’re going to make a good play.”

The combo looked natural, a chemical reaction, just like it did with 16:23 to play in the second half, when they repeated it, from a slightly different angle and distance, for 2-0.

“It’s definitely complicated, it’s a hard thing to do,” Mariello said of the team’s sustained control. “Our mindset is: They can’t score without the ball. So we try to keep it in possession as much as possible.

“A couple of breakdowns, we try to pull them back together, and ‘Do you realize where we’re at right now? What this game means?’”

Then – and somewhat out of the blue – Marshwood halved the lead. On the attack, Hawks Captain Lindsey Poirier cut in from the top of the Scarborough box; she slid quickly right, but fired back left, across to the far corner, beating Storm goalie Alyssa Souza for 2-1.

“It was a good eye-opener for the girls,” said Mariello, “to really see what [Poirier’s] capable of.”

Poirier’s lone-gunman goal no doubt invigorated the Hawks’ hopes, but the clock was chugging implacably forward: five minutes to play, four minutes, three. Did Marshwood have enough time to, if not seize the advantage, at least even the tally and force OT?

At 2:10, the Storm’s Kristen Levesque answered that question resoundingly. Levesque added a third for her squad, a ball she bludgeoned to the back of the Marshwood cage out of a roiling throwdown at the feet of Hawks keeper Cassidy Smith. 3-1 the final.

Scarborough had dispatched Marshwood handily, but Skowhegan is a beast of a different stripe. For almost a decade and a half, the Indians have rampaged across over practically every challenger; they bested the Storm 3-0 for the State throne in 2012, then 4-1 in 2013.

Skowhegan finished 18-0 that latter year, to the Storm’s 16-1-1. Records may not mean much come game time, but it’s nevertheless worth noting that the Indians suffered defeats this regular season, two of them. Even before meeting Scarborough in Waterville, Skowhegan was 15-2 – still the East’s No. 1, but more clearly than ever fully mortal.

“It’s going to be great,” Dobecki said of the Storm’s impending rematch with Skowhegan, following the Marshwood game.

“We’re so ready for that,” Murray said, after beating the Hawks. “Third time’s a charm.”

Maybe it wasn’t so much a charm, though, as sheer determination – after all, Murray scored with under three seconds to play. At that point, anybody who doesn’t just take a breath and wait for OT is clearly on a mission.

“The game was how every State Championship should be,” said Mariello. “It was a hard-fought battle until the end, and we were the fortunate ones that came out on top – and did so in one of the most dramatic fashions: 2.1 seconds with a man down.

“The goal was off a corner play, where there can be tremendous offensive advantage if executed properly. We sent the ball to the top, carried it to commit two of the five defenders, sent it into the circle – where we then drew the goalie out, and another defender.

“The ball was then sent into the center, and was lifted in the air a bit, and Kristen, who had one defender to beat, redirected it into the back of the cage.”

Mariello heaped praise on her outstanding defense: “They disrupted any sort of rhythm or momentum that Skowhegan had, stopping the big hits, breaking up the passes, and playing tenaciously.

“We knew Skowhegan was a big-hitting team, very skilled and quick. WE knew we had to come out fierce and confident. Which we did.”

Asked after the Marshwood game how she’d developed her team to such a high level, Mariello said: “We pushed hard, and we worked hard and we sacrificed, and those are things that made the difference in the end,” a sentiment that clearly held true through Saturday as well.

Victoria Timm drives upfield for the Red Storm in Thursday’s Regional Final against visiting Marshwood.Red Stormers Abby Walker (15) and Maddy Dobecki (12) converge on teammate Kristen Murray after her first goal in Thursday night’s matchup with Marshwood. Dobecki had the assist.Maddy Dobecki cuts around a Marshwood defender at home Thursday night. Dobecki assisted Kristen Murray on both of Murray’s goals.A quad of Red Stormers – including Kaitlyn Prince (left), Emma Hall (20) and Rose Kirsch (7) ham it up for the camera after their 3-1 Regional Final win over Marshwood.The Red Storm celebrate Kristen Murray’s game-winning goal just as it bounces around in the Skowhegan cage on Saturday morning.The Red Storm pose with their trophy, flashing the customary “We’re No. 1!” fingers.Maddy Dobecki (12), Kristen Murray (4) and Lily Nygren (5) hold aloft their prize after defeating Skowhegan 1-0 for the Class A Field Hockey State Championship Saturday morning.

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