HAMPDEN, Maine — The Messalonskee High School field hockey program from Oakland is among the state’s best, but rival Skowhegan has continually prevented the Eagles from reaching a Class A state championship game.
Before losing to Lawrence of Fairfield in the Eastern Maine Class A semifinals last fall, Messalonskee had lost in the regional championship game to Skowhegan the previous six years.
But this could be the season that the Eagles earn their first Eastern Maine title since 2000.
Coach Katie McLaughlin’s team sits atop the Class A North standings with a 12-0 record that includes a 3-0 win over Skowhegan, which gives the Eagles three consecutive triumphs over the Indians.
Skowhegan, which has only lost to Messalonskee this fall, will entertain Messalonskee in the regular season finale on Tuesday.
Last fall, Messalonskee had ended Skowhegan’s 78-game winning streak, 5-4 in double overtime, and then bested the Indians 4-2 at the end of the season.
Messalonskee has outscored its opponents 67-2 this season.
“Coming into this season, we’ve had a different mentality when we play Skowhegan,” said senior center forward Emily Hogan. “Instead of getting hyped up before the game because they’re our biggest rivals, we stayed more calm and collected. We were taking it one game at a time. It’s one game, let’s play it and win it.”
Senior right wing Nathalie St. Pierre this is the strongest team she has played on.
“It’s a very deep team. We’ve got a lot of young players, but they aren’t intimidated by anything. They just play their game, and we all really work well together,” she said.
The team is a very special group, according to fifth-year head coach McLaughlin.
“They are all completely selfless. They work hard, they play hard, it’s all about the team. There’s no drama,” she said.
Her team’s recent success against Skowhegan has improved her players’ confidence.
“It has been a slow progression. But we aren’t scared or worried any more. We don’t concern ourselves with who we’re playing and the hype surrounding it,” McLaughlin said. “We play our own game and just worry about ourselves. We’re getting better when it comes to playing in big games.”
“We feel we have a huge shot [to win the regional title] this year, and we’re working hard every day. That’s what will get us there,” said senior right midfielder Riley Field.
Messalonskee has just four seniors but Hogan, St. Pierre, Field and right back Kirsten Pelletier have played important roles in its success.
“They are real strong players and they have been amazing leaders. … They orchestrate the whole thing,” said McLaughlin.
Sophomore center midfielder Haley Lowell and junior center back Lydia Dexter “really swing the ball well and get us moving up and down and side to side,” she said.
Freshmen sweeper Kaitlyn Smith and left back Autumn Littlefield have been “incredibly mature” and stellar in the back; junior Emily Warren has been productive on the left wing; junior Ally Corbett has been “wonderful” at left mid; and first-year starting goalie Hannah Pinney, a junior, has done “an excellent job,” McLaughlin added.