The high school field hockey season got extended a week this year when poor weather conditions postponed the state championship games a week to Saturday at Deering High’s Memorial Field.

For the six coaches involved, that meant finding creative ways to keep their players challenged and sharp.

At Gardiner High, Sharon Gallant even brought pygmy goats to practice one day. “A week is a long time to fill,” she said. “So we did a little pygmy goat yoga.”

Paula Doughty has called this week “one of the biggest challenges” she’s ever had in her legendary field hockey coaching career at Skowhegan. Fortunately, she said, she has a group of players who understand the stakes and what it takes to stay on top. The Indians will be appearing in their 18th consecutive Class A state championship game when they take on Biddeford at 3 p.m.

“They all have positive attitudes and a good work ethic,” said Doughty. “I can think of some teams in the past that, if they had this extra week, would have been miserable. This group was disappointed but they’ve had no complaints.”

The games were originally scheduled to be played at Husson University last Saturday. But cold, wintry conditions forced the Maine Principals’ Association to postpone the games. Because of limited field availability, the games were pushed back a week and to Deering instead of Husson, which was unavailable.

Doughty said the change of site is unfortunate because it could limit the number of Skowhegan fans who will attend. “It is going to impact our crowd,” she said. “We’ll get our best fans, but probably not much of the student population.”

The championship games will begin at 11 a.m. with the Class B game between York (13-3-1) and Gardiner (16-1). It is York’s sixth consecutive appearance in the state game. The teams have met twice in the state game – Gardiner winning 2-0 in 2009, York winning 2-1 in 2014.

The Class C game between Spruce Mountain (11-5-1) and Winthrop (16-1) will start at 1 p.m. The Ramblers won two both regular-season games.

The Class A game will wrap up the day. Skowhegan has won the last three Class A state titles – and 15 of the last 17 – while Biddeford is appearing in a state title game for the first time since 1995.

If any team has benefited from the week delay it could be Biddeford.

The Tigers lost senior center midfielder Hailey Allen, considered by many to be their best player, to a right knee injury in the regional semifinals and have switched several players around.

“Having that extra week to figure out our new adaptations is important,” said Coach Caitlin Albert. “But any time you go 10 days without having a regulation game, that’s a long time.”

But, said Spruce Mountain Coach Jane DiPompo, the delay gave her team “extra time to work on everything we needed to work on.”

The teams were allowed by the MPA to schedule a round-robin play day. The South teams played at Biddeford’s Waterhouse Field, the North teams at Thomas College.

“It was good to get moving and on turf again,” said York’s first-year coach Nora Happny. “And really, I just think we’re happy to have another week together.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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