Sunday, December 8, 2013
By Matt DiFilippo email@example.com
SKOWHEGAN — Although Skowhegan outscored its opponents 110-2 during the regular season, coach Paula Doughty believes there’s still room for improvement. Based on recent history, you can give Doughty the benefit of the doubt that she knows what it takes to win a field hockey state championship.
Skowhegan's Renee Wright, left, battles with Bangor High School goalie Rachel Luc, during a game at Tuesday in Skowhegan. The Indians defeated the Rams 10-0.
Staff photo / Michael G. Seamans
The Indians are shooting for their fourth consecutive Class A title, and 12th over the last 13 years. They began the postseason part of that journey on Tuesday afternoon, as Renee Wright scored six goals in a 10-0 victory over No. 8 Bangor in an Eastern A quarterfinal.
“(Monday) we had a rough practice,” Doughty said. “I think the kids walked away wishing I lived on the moon. But it paid off, because today, we played like a team.”
No. 1 Skowhegan is off until Saturday, when the Indians will face the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal between Lawrence and Oxford Hills. Tuesday’s game certainly wasn’t played in ideal weather conditions — it was wet and cold by the end of the game — but there were minimal slips on the field, and the Indians were worried about being rained out on Thursday and having to play playoff games on Friday and Saturday, so they and the Bangor players toughed it out.
“I knew that today was going to be slippery, so I had to stay low,” Wright said. “We had to stick together. We had to come out strong first half, come out strong second half, and just play as a team.”
The Indians led 1-0 just 46 seconds into the game on a goal by Brooke Michonski. Wright added two goals in a span of 39 seconds, and it was 3-0 less than 10 minutes into the first half. Skowhegan goalie Leah Kruse didn’t touch the ball until Skowhegan had that 3-0 lead, and then never touched the ball again.
“We had a point where we kind of let down, but we came right back, strong,” Wright said.
Allison Lancaster made a nice move to split two defenders and gave Skowhegan a 4-0 lead. Mikayla Toth drove a long shot that was deflected in, and Wright was credited with the goal. That made it 5-0 at the half.
Wright scored 33 seconds into the second half, and also accounted for the next two goals. Birthday girl Rylie Blanchet and Michonski scored before time ran out. Skowhegan ended up winning the battle of shots (43-0) and penalty corners (18-0).
The Indians had most of their starters still in the game for the entire second half. Doughty said that was intentional. She reasons that if there’s room for improvement, that won’t happen with her starters playing 10 minutes each half.
“I think we’re still growing as a team, where last year I think we had pretty much peaked in September and just sort of cruised,” Doughty said. “We’re still getting better. I think today was our best game we played all year.
“We’re still growing as a team, and those kids need to be in there playing. They’ve got to stay in condition, and they’ve got to stay focused, and they’ve got to stay sharp. We still have things we’re working on. We executed today some things we hadn’t executed all year.”