Nov. 4—LEWISTON — She had been bottled up and stymied all game, frustrated and flustered all afternoon.
And then, finally, Lucy Johnson got free.
Johnson scored with 58 seconds remaining, lifting the Cheverus High field hockey team to a 2-1 victory over Skowhegan in the Class A state championship game Saturday at Lewiston High's Don Roux Field.
The dramatic victory finished an undefeated season for the Stags (18-0) and handed them their second state title in three years. Skowhegan, which fell to Cheverus in 2021 but won 3-2 last season, finished 16-2.
"I don't even have words for it. I'm so, so happy," said Johnson, who also assisted on a first-quarter goal by Mikayla Talbot. "I remember this feeling from my freshman year, and it's the exact same."
Skowhegan got its goal from Layla Conway, her 25th of the season, with five seconds left in the first half.
"I think we worked as hard as we could," said Skowhegan senior midfielder Laney LeBlanc. "We played our game, we worked as a unit. ... I'm just proud of our team, and how we played against them."
The River Hawks had the answer for the Stags and, in particular, Johnson, who scored 40 goals during the season and become the state's all-time leading scorer. Johnson had two Skowhegan defenders around her whenever she went on the attack and another swooping in whenever she shook loose.
"It was just, whoever's closest, pick her up and keep her out," said Skowhegan senior co-captain and midfielder Masyn Atwood.
The River Hawks, who had allowed only four goals all season, got big efforts from LeBlanc, Sydalia Savage, Gemma Kennedy and Jayla Gentry to contain Johnson and the Stags.
"We are very good at marking people," LeBlanc said. "If she beats one of us, there's always somebody right there. We have a very good defensive set back there. It's kind of our game and how we wanted to play. We're a very defensive team, we always think defense is going to make us win."
Johnson acknowledged that the struggle to break free was getting to her.
"I was getting a little frustrated," she said. "I knew I had a bunch of people on me, but I needed to keep my composure. I knew I had to."
In the last minute of play, Johnson got the chance she wanted. She broke down the left side, swung back on a diagonal toward the goal and found herself 1-on-1 with Skowhegan goalie Michela Provost (nine saves) before roofing a shot past the keeper.
"I was thinking that in the back of my head. Not to rush, but be quick at the same time," Johnson said. "I just got lucky on that last time. ... It was definitely a feeling of relief."
Moments later, the score was final, and a season-long effort to make up for last year's championship-game defeat was realized.
"The feeling at the end of the game, being so sweet, came from the journey, starting from the end of last year and how hard the girls have worked," Coach Theresa Arsenault said. "It just makes it so special."
With both defenses clicking, the game hung in the middle of the field and in the possession battle. Cheverus scored that pivotal check mark, as senior Lily Johnson led a midfield group with Joey Pompeo, Charlotte Miller and Taylor Krieger that prevented Skowhegan from consistently counter-punching.
"We really had to focus on possession, and that starts in the defense," Lily Johnson said. "Coach always says defense wins championships, and I think everything really started from there."
Cheverus went up 1-0 with 5:09 left in the first quarter when Lucy Johnson sent a pass toward the net and Talbot, a senior, knocked it home.
"I just planted myself in front, tried to get the rebound, and it worked out great," Talbot said. "It feels really great. Perfect way to end a season and my high school career."
Cheverus looked prepared to go into the break with the lead, but Skowhegan was awarded a corner after Savage started a rush in the closing seconds of the half. Conway made the insert up to LeBlanc, who moved the ball down to Savage for a shot. The rebound went right to Conway, who knocked it home to tie the game with only five seconds remaining.
LeBlanc said that resilience has come to be expected.
"Whenever somebody scores, we're like 'OK, we're going to get the ball, we're going to go right up there and we're going to keep going,'" she said. "We're not going to let down. I think that was our biggest thing."