WINTHROP — Winthrop field hockey coach Jess Merrill was reluctant to take credit for her team’s game-winning goal Wednesday.

But just 14 seconds after she called timeout to encourage her team to take advantage of scoring opportunities it had, junior Breanna Feeney answered the call. Feeney’s goal with 7:30 left to play held up as the Ramblers came away with a 2-1 win over Dirigo in the Mountain Valley Conference opener for both teams.

“They responded the way I wanted them to.” Merrill said. “That was nice to see. We had so many beautiful crosses but we were just waiting for that ball to get to us, like they were just going to give it to us.”

Feeney, who came off the bench last year, took a pass from Kinli DiBiase and poked the ball past Dirigo goalie Morgan Morrow.

“We all talked about we need to get to our spots and execute in the circle,” Feeney.

The Ramblers dominated most of the game with an aggressive attack and solid two-way play from juniors Moriah Hajduk and Kate Perkins. They out-shot the Cougars 5-1 in the first half and got on the scoreboard with a pretty goal from DiBiase, the team’s lone senior. Perkins sent her away with a high aerial pass from midfield down the right sideline and DiBiase did the rest, turning the corner on a defender and beating Morrow with a tough-angle shot.

“What we work on a lot is curling, which is going down diagonally then curling horizontally down the baseline,” DiBiase said. “Then usually we look to cross it up but I didn’t see anyone up so I just said ‘OK I might as well try it.’ And I just stuck it right behind the goalie because it was right inside the opposite post.”

The Ramblers missed several good scoring chances in the first half. Perkins rung a shot off the left post 10 minutes into the game and she and her teammates were unable to capitalize on four penalty corners, in fact not even generating a shot on goal.

“It’s surprising to me that we’re not because it’s the same corner unit as last year,” Merrill said.

After a halftime pep talk from Dirigo coach Gretchen Errington, the Cougars picked up their game in the second half.

“The last 18 minutes we did,” Errington said. “I do have at any one time five, maybe six freshmen on the field. It’s a different ball game when you go from middle school to high school.”

The Cougars put four shots on Winthrop goalie Aiva Agri in the second half, tying the game at 1 at the 19 minute mark when junior Ashley Perrault finished off a scramble in front of the cage.

“Any goal is a good goal,” Errington said. “There was no skill to that goal. It was just pushing to get it in and somebody got a stick on it.”

Morrow, a four-year starter in goal for the Cougars, finished with seven saves and kept her team in the game.

“She’s a great goalie,” Errington said. “The score does not reflect the way the game was.”