Friday, March 7, 2014
By Matt Difilippo And Travis Lazarczyk
Anyone who has ever won a high school state championship knows how difficult that process is. It takes months of hard work and you need some luck along the way. Winning one state title would be the highlight of many athletes’ playing careers.
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer Skowhegan's Mikayla Toh, left, receives a hug from Rylie Blanchet, as the Indians celebrate their win over Scarborough in the Class A field hockey championship at Yarmouth High School Saturday, November 2, 2013.
That makes what Skowhegan field hockey has done over the last four years so amazing. The Indians have won 76 straight games, which is a new state record, and four consecutive Class A state championships. They are also the 2013 Morning Sentinel Sports Story of the Year.
Of course, Skowhegan has become the Gold (Ball) standard of team sports in Maine, winning 12 of the last 13 state titles. The Indians won this year because they were able to reload at key positions.
In 2012, Skowhegan won the state title and set a state record with 147 goals. But Makaela Michonski and Sarah Finnemore had scored 75 of those goals and both graduated. So Allison Lancaster became the center midfielder and ended up being named Miss Maine Field Hockey. Mikayla Toth was one of the best backs in the state. Rylie Blanchet and Renee Wright led the offense, while Holly Lupo made all-state on defense. The Indians scored 132 goals this season and allowed four.
Skowhegan defeated Messalonskee 1-0 in the Eastern A regional final and advanced to play Scarborough for the state championship. Tori Mullin made a defensive save in the first minute of the game, and when Lancaster and Blanchet scored in the first half, Skowhegan was on its way to a 4-1 victory.
The seniors finished with an unprecedented line for their careers: 483 goals, 18 against. 76 wins, 0 losses.
And four Gold Balls.
2. Mike McGee retires
It wasn’t a surprise. Mike McGee let a number of people know a few years ago that the 2012-13 season would be his last on the Lawrence High School boys basketball bench. When McGee’s career ended abruptly when Hampden made a desparation heave of a 3-pointer in the Eastern Class A regional final, one of the most successful coaching careers in Maine high school sports history came to an end.
McGee coached 31 years at Lawrence, his high school alma mater. He won 350 games, two state championships — in 1990 and 1994 — and five regional titles.
McGee’s teams were known for their hard-nosed, man-to-man defense, and played that way right to the end.
“It was important to me, after 31 years, to go out on my terms, doing it my way,” McGee said in a March interview.
3. High school football expands to four classes
After years of discussion and planning, Maine high school football expanded to four classes in 2013, for the first time since 1986.
Although some were wary of the changes, the three Portland schools playing in Eastern Class A, for example, the move was a success. Three of the four state championships were decided by a touchdown or less, and all four were close going into the fourth quarter, the closest round of state title games in years.
To accommodate the fourth class, the University of Maine in Orono was added as a championship site, and hosted the Class B game on Friday night. Classes A, C, and D were played at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
Gold balls went to Bonny Eagle (Class A), Cony (Class B), Leavitt (Class C) and Oak Hill (Class D).
4. Bethanie Brown and Matt McClintock set a new standard for local runners
Bethanie Brown competed in both high school (Waterville) and college (Iowa State) races in 2013. Athens native Matt McClintock competed as a sophomore at Purdue University. Both had many Mainers following their accomplishments, and doing so with pride.
(Continued on page 2)