HAMPDEN — Addi Williams guided the Maine Central Institute field hockey team to championship heights last season. One year later, she’s doing it again.

Williams scored a pair of goals to lead MCI’s dominant top-seeded team to a 3-0 victory over No. 3 Winthrop in the Class C North final Wednesday night at Hampden Academy.

“We played a great game. We had some kids step up when they needed to,” said coach Nancy Hughes, whose team improved to 15-2-0. “Everybody contributed. When the ball came near them they got it, they got rid of it, they didn’t play with it, they knew what to do with it. I thought our teamwork and passing and communication was very good today.”

Williams was a force last postseason, scoring seven goals, including one in the 2-0 Class C state title game victory. She’s been just as impressive in these playoffs, scoring a pair of goals to help MCI rally over Boothbay in the North semifinals.

On Wednesday, Winthrop (13-3-1) was added to the growing list of teams that haven’t been able to contain the junior standout. Williams needed only 4:11 to put the Huskies in front after leading a 2-on-1 rush toward the Ramblers’ net. Williams slipped by the defender, forcing the goalie to come out, then smacked a shot by her to make it 1-0 early in the game.

“I love having all the fans here, cheering us all on,” Williams said. “A lot of people crack under pressure, but it just feeds me to do better.”

Just over five minutes later, the Huskies struck again. MCI got pressure down by the Winthrop end, and a pass through the crease found its way to Keely Manzo. The senior — one of only two on MCI’s young but experienced squad — rattled it home to make it 2-0 with 20:29 left and put the Ramblers on their heels.

“Coach really made a point for us to start with fire and explode right from the get-go,” Williams said. “We had it in our minds we really needed to score.”

MCI strengthened its grasp on the victory in the second half, with a familiar name landing the blow. A shot off a corner rebounded and found its way right to Williams, who collected the bouncing ball and shot it home for a 3-0 lead with 26:32 to go.

It was her second goal, and she nearly added a third — she picked up a loose ball after Winthrop goalie Corinna Coulton (five saves) tried to kick it away, but her shot skidded just wide left of the cage with 18:46 left.

“Addi’s a phenomenal player, phenomenal,” Hughes said. “She’s got that kind of extra gear where she doesn’t quit. … She’s got such a nice touch, she’s got such an eye for the goal. She gets a lot of goals because our girls know she’s there and try to get the ball in to her.”

The hole was daunting, but the Ramblers kept pushing. Winthrop had a chance with 20:19 left when Brianna McClure brought the ball down and tried to center it for a teammate, but MCI was quick to swat it away.

“They recognize the situation within the game,” Hughes said. “They realize it’s important not to play with the ball to make sure they don’t make a mistake in their defensive end.”

Winthrop’s Sarah Spahr just missed a goal when she pushed it wide left off a corner with 13:24 left, and the Ramblers were denied on perhaps their best look when McClure sent a shot toward the left post from the right side, only for goalie Elspeth Taylor (six saves) to dive on the ball and cover it up with 7:01 left.

“Nothing seemed to go our way today,” coach Jessica Merrill said. “It seemed to be one thing after another.”

Merrill acknowledged that the opponent had a lot to do with that.

“I think they were running on all cylinders,” she said. “They were on point, and we just couldn’t catch up after those goals.

“It was their night. We had trouble matching their intensity, but the girls played hard and I’m so proud. They did so well this season, so we have nothing to be upset about.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM


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