Skowhegan High has had its share of outstanding field hockey players, many of whom went on to play at the NCAA Division I level.

Maliea Kelso can take her place among them.

Kelso, a senior midfielder, finished her high school career as one of the school’s all-time leading scorers and will continue to play at Northeastern University.

A smooth, highly skilled player, Kelso earned the respect of coaches across the state, not only with her play on the field but with her tenacity. She is our selection as Maine Sunday Telegram field hockey player of the year.

“She is easily the best player on the field in any contest,” said Cony Coach Holly Daigle. “She’s a weapon all over the field, and no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to contain her … She has put more hours into perfecting her game than any high school player, and it shows. Of all the incredibly talented players to come out of Skowhegan, she’s definitely one of the best I’ve seen in my 12 years of coaching.”

Paula Doughty is always cautious with praise for her own players, tending to stress the team aspect of Skowhegan’s success year after year. But even she called Kelso “one of the most talented kids I’ve ever had in our program.”

Kelso finished her career with 77 goals and 53 assists. She had 16 goals and 15 assists this year.

She’s regarded as an exceptional stick-handler and passer, with an extremely hard touch on her shot and a tenacity to get the ball if someone else has it.

“I guess I get that from my family,” said Kelso, noting her mother played at Skowhegan and an aunt played at Boston College.

“They put it in my mind that if I wanted something, I had to go get it. If I lost the ball, I had to get it back.”

Doughty said Kelso was always mature as a player. “She just started playing as a very young kid,” said Doughty. “You can’t teach stuff like that.”

Her versatility was something to watch. Kelso was the shooter on most Skowhegan offensive corners, and was the flyer – the defender who rushes the player who is about to shoot the ball – on defensive corners.

“I would say she was the most versatile kid on our team,” said Doughty.

Kelso also competes in track and softball, but field hockey is her passion. She has participated in numerous national tournaments and last year was selected as a second-team All-American by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.

“Field hockey is something I’ve worked on my whole life,” said Kelso.

While Skowhegan didn’t win the Class A state championship this fall, losing 4-3 to Biddeford in the final, the loss didn’t dampen Kelso’s career.

“I would say these were probably the best four years of my life,” said Kelso, who had two goals in the state championship game. “They were filled with laughter, joy, tears … everything you can think of in those four years.”