Skowhegan’s Lucia Siren (9) and Kate Kelso (2) celebrate after Layla Conway (14) scores the go-ahead goal in the fourth quarter of the River Hawks’ 3-2 victory over Cheverus in the Class A championship game on Nov. 5 at Messalonskee High. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

This story has been updated from a version originally published on Nov. 5, 2022.

OAKLAND — There’s nothing much the Skowhegan field hockey team can do anymore to surprise the state.

Or so it seemed.

Elli Quinn and Layla Conway scored 37 seconds apart in the fourth quarter, and the River Hawks rallied late to stun southern Maine power Cheverus in the Class A championship game, earning a 3-2 win on Nov. 5 at Messalonskee High.

“It’s amazing. It’s just so good to come back and do it,” said Quinn, whose team lost to Cheverus, 4-1, in the previous year’s championship game. “We’ve been working so hard all year. This was our end goal, and we achieved it.”

The disappointment and disbelief was evident on the Cheverus side after the final whistle.


“It was a great season, and I hope our girls don’t base their season off of today and (instead) remember all the great things they’ve done together on and off the field,” said Cheverus Coach Theresa Arsenault. “(I hope they) use today to learn and to grow as people and as field hockey players.

“It was a great effort from our girls. We just couldn’t quite string it together.”

In a year with several dramatic games in girls’ sports, this title-game matchup between field hockey powerhouses is our choice as the 2022-23 Varsity Maine Girls’ Game of the Year.

Championships are an expectation for the River Hawks (18-0), who have won 20 Class A titles overall and 17 of the last 21 state finals, but this game loomed as a tall task. All season, Cheverus (17-1) looked considerably improved from the team that won it all last fall, outscoring opponents 138-5 while never scoring fewer than five goals in a game.

Skowhegan, however, was ready.

“This year, the biggest difference was we were really prepared,” said Paula Doughty, Skowhegan’s coach since 1981. “The forwards have a lot of skills of the backs, and the backs have skills of the forwards. It was a much more complete team.”


Still, the River Hawks had to dig deep. Skowhegan scored first when Conway knocked in a Laney LeBlanc pass, but Cheverus showed its firepower when sophomore standout Lucy Johnson produced a pair of goals 37 seconds apart for a 2-1 lead in the second quarter.

That lead lasted into the fourth – until the River Hawks got the chances they were looking for.

With 9:05 to play, Samantha Thebarge’s shot off a corner was knocked down, but Quinn pounced on the rebound to tie the game.

Moments later, Kate Kelso brought the ball up and slipped a pass under the diving Cheverus goalie, and Conway swooped in to knock it home for the lead.

“We knew we didn’t have much time, so we just kind of hunkered down,” Conway said. “We just played as a unit, and it worked out.”

It was the first time all season Cheverus had trailed in the fourth quarter, and the Stags went all out to try to prevent their first loss in two years. Johnson got a shot in the final minute on the Stags’ ninth corner of the game, but Skowhegan’s LeBlanc got a stick on it and played the ball out to essentially seal the victory.


“It’s amazing. It just feels 100 times better than last year,” Conway said. “We knew if we came into it calm, composed, confident, we were going to take the gold home. The mentalities were so much better.”

Skowhegan trailed Oxford Hills in the Class A North final three days earlier before winning in overtime. Doughty said her team was prepared for its toughest test.

“That game really helped us,” she said. “Wednesday wasn’t easy, today wasn’t easy, and we really feel like we won two championships.”

This one earned a spot among the other Skowhegan championships, and perhaps in front of many of them.

“I don’t know if it’s at the top. There have been a lot of really ‘at the tops,'” Doughty said. “But it was a great game. It was the two best teams in Class A, battling it out.”

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story