As a championship run grows longer and longer, the general assumption is that the related pressure grows more and more intense on the competitors seeking to keep the streak alive.
One exception may be at Skowhegan Area High School, where the field hockey team captured its 19th consecutive Class A North title Wednesday with a 5-0 victory over Mt. Blue of Farmington at Hampden Academy.
“I’d say it’s motivation more than pressure,” Skowhegan senior forward Alexis Michonski said. “We definitely go into the games wanting to win and not expecting to lose. We put our hearts into every single game and we work so well as a team that we go into every game playing to win, not to lose.”
The victory advances top-seeded Skowhegan (17-0) to Saturday’s state championship game against the winner of Wednesday night’s Class A South final between top-seeded Biddeford and No. 2 Massabesic of Waterboro.
Biddeford, also undefeated at 16-0 entering its regional final, edged Skowhegan 4-3 in last year’s state game.
Michonski scored three goals to pace Skowhegan’s offense against Mt. Blue, the first with 7:01 left in the first half on the tip-in of a Kayla Furbush shot to help her team build a 2-0 intermission lead.
Michonski added Skowhegan’s first two goals of the second half, the first off an assist from Logan Wing with 18:12 left and her final tally 73 seconds later on the tip-in of a Hannah McKenney shot.
“It definitely takes a whole team to get it into the back of the net, that’s how I see it,” Michonski said. “I just finish the play but my team helps me get it there.”
Senior midfielder Bhreagh Kennedy, a University of Maine verbal commit, added a goal and an assist for Skowhegan. Assists by Kennedy and Meredith Mitchell set up the first goal of the contest by senior Emily Reichenbach 7:42 into the first half, and Kennedy scored the final goal of the contest off another Mitchell assist with 1:43 to play.
Mt. Blue’s best sustained offense came amid a series of penalty corners at one point of the first half, but a Skowhegan defense anchored by senior goalkeeper Mackenzie McConnell prevented the Cougars from breaking through.
McConnell preserved Skowhegan’s second shutout of the season against Mt. Blue and 11th shutout overall this fall with nine saves.
“From previous times we always know how they attack,” McConnell said.
Skowhegan, which outshot Mt. Blue 11-6 before intermission, had a 15-3 shots advantage after the break.
“This team is a balanced team,” Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said. “There’s not one star out there, there’s a lot of great kids that just work together and work together, and when one slips up another one picks it up.
“It isn’t like you can key on one player with us. Yes, Bhreagh is an amazing player, but there’s a lot of other amazing players out there, too.”
Brooke Bolduc finished with 21 saves in goal for Mt. Blue, which ended a bid for its first regional crown since 1978 with a 13-4 record.
Skowhegan now has defeated its three North playoff opponents by a combined 26-1 and will attempt to capture its 16th state championship in the last 19 years.
“I think it’s just a privilege that we get to be seniors in a year when we can carry on this legacy,” Kennedy said.