October 11, 2012

HIGH SCHOOL FIELD HOCKEY: The wins continue for Indians

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Editor's note: This story was edited at 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 to correct the reason Messalonskee's Kristy Bernatchez was given a yellow card.

click image to enlarge

MIXED REACTION: Messalonskee’s Natalie Hunt (19) throws her arms up in frustration as Skowhegan’s Makaela Michonski (21) and Renee Wright celebrate a goal Monday in Skowhegan. Eagles keeper Abby Roberts is at right.

Staff photo by David Leaming

SKOWHEGAN -- For Skowhegan field hockey, one streak is over. But for now, one streak that matters even more is still going strong.

After 14 consecutive shutouts, dating back to last season, the Indians allowed a goal against Messalonskee on Monday morning. The Indians recovered, and went on to their 49th straight victory win a 3-1 win over the Eagles.

"We knew we had to work harder," Skowhegan junior back Mikayla Toth said. "We had to get back together as a team. When we talk (on the field), it's like magic out there."

The teams were playing for the No. 1 seed in Eastern A, although since the regional final is played at a neutral site, they were really playing to see whether Messalonskee could beat Skowhegan.

It seemed possible in the first half. Skowhegan (14-0) had opportunities, but was a few inches off on each one. The Indians missed one chance when sophomore forward Renee Wright sent a beautiful cross from the right side, and Makaela Michonski barely missed getting a stick on it for a goal.

Additionally, Messalonskee junior goalie Abby Roberts made 14 saves, including six in the first half. Although Roberts has 11 shutouts this fall, when you consider the competition, this was probably her best game of the season.

"I think her and our defense -- like Skowhegan's -- has a hard time throughout the season, because there's not many tests that they get," Messalonskee coach Katie McLaughlin said. "I think she just did an amazing job today. Her, along with Natalie Hunt, our sweep, had a lot of saves. I think they really rose to the occasion."

With 1:42 left in the half, Messalonskee took the lead on a penalty corner. Kristy Bernatchez got the insertion pass at the top of the circle, made a quick move and blasted the shot into the right corner of the cage. It gave the Eagles (12-2) a 1-0 lead, but also gave Skowhegan some extra motivation.

"I said to myself, 'This is exactly what we needed to get that monkey off our back,' " Skowhegan coach Paula Doughty said about the scoreless streak. "Then they came back with fire. It was a good thing. We don't have to worry about it anymore."

"We were pumped," Wright said. "We knew we could do this."

It took the Indians less than four minutes into the second half to tie the score. Allison Lancaster, who switched from turf shoes to cleats at halftime, maneuvered around two defenders on the left side, then tucked a quick shot inside the left post with 26:11 left in the half.

Messalonskee got the momentum back with back-to-back penalty corners, but that momentum changed quickly. After the Indians broke up the second corner, Toth heard Michonski call for the ball and sent a hard drive upfield. Michonski won the race to the ball for a breakaway and Wright hustled up the right side to give Michonski an option.

Michonski, who has over 30 goals this season, drew Roberts out and dropped a pass to Wright, who scored to make it 2-1 with 22:13 to go in the game.

"I think my kids -- and I know they're my kids -- but my kids are pretty much class acts that way," Doughty said. "You don't see a lot of ball hogs. Nobody's selfish. They just all work together and that's a perfect example."

The Indians went up 3-1 when Michonski punched in her own rebound with 12:40 remaining. Over the rest of the game, Skowhegan out-shot the Eagles, 14-1. Messalonskee had to play the final 4:03 short-handed after Bernatchez was assessed a yellow card for a 5-yard free hit infraction.

Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243

mdifilippo@centralmaine.com

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