Lisbon’s Emma Wiley, left, chases Winthrop’s Lindsay Letourneau during a game on September 17 in Lisbon Falls.

The Winthrop field hockey team was pleasantly surprised a year ago when it reached the Class C state championship game where it fell to St. Dominic in double overtime.

They’ll be no surprises this season unless the Ramblers are upset before reaching the big game again and this time winning it. The graduation of just two seniors is one reason for optimism as well the influx of some talented freshmen.

But just getting so close a year ago and the way the Ramblers have begun this season at 9-0 are even greater incentives.

“I see a lot more determination this year,” Winthrop coach Jess Merrill said. “The girls are learning that even though we’re skilled they’re so mentally tough. I’m amazed at how mentally strong they are.”

Lisbon’s Peyton Gosselin, right, blocks Winthrop’s Moriah Hajduk during a game on September 17 in Lisbon Falls.

The Ramblers weathered a couple of recent tests when they knocked off Spruce Mountain and Mountain Valley in the same week, but they’ve otherwise been unchallenged and have allowed just to goals this season while scoring 49.

“I think it’s our midfield,” Merrill said. “Our midfield definitely controls our play.”

Midfield play begins with senior center mid Katie Perkins, a talented two-way player who sparks the team’s offense.

“(She’s) so talented at switching fields,” Merrill senior.

Moriah Hajduk, like Perkins a four-year starter, plays offensive midfield, but as Merrill explained “I can put her anywhere.” Sophomore Abby Ross has also come on strong in the midfield and has adapted well to her teammates.

Offense has come from a number of players. Sophomore Kerrigan Anuszewski has piled up a lot of assists while freshman Maddy Perkins has scored 20 goals.

“She’s pretty dynamic in the open field,” Merrill said of Perkins. “She’s got a great touch around the net.”

The Ramblers expect to be tested over the last five games beginning this week against Spruce Mountain at home and an improving Oak Hill team on the road. They finish the regular season Oct. 4 at Mountain Valley.

• • •

Mt. Blue remains a work in progress despite its successful 5-1-1 start.

“We only have one senior,” Coach Jody Harmon said. “We’re young and we’re working hard.”

Harmon had to replace nine starters from last year’s playoff squad and is still tinkering with lineups and positions.

“It still isn’t established,” Harmon said. “We’re moving players around depending on who we’re playing.”

The Cougars opened the season with a win against Cony which in the long run has worked out well since the Rams are riding a seven-game win streak and worth a lot of tournament points. They led three-time defending state champion Skowhegan by a pair of goals before the Indians turned it on in the final 20 minutes to pull out a 4-2 victory.

“It definitely showed we play with heart, we play with everything we have,” Harmon said of the game. “We have to be able to play a full 60 minutes.”

Harmon describes senior Ellie Pelletier, and junior midfielders Madison Bard and Molly Harmon as the rocks of the team. Brooke Bolduc has taken over in goal and recently posted her first shutout. She’s drawn defensive support from Pelletier, Keegan Andrews and Eva Stevens

The Cougars face two big tests this week beginning today at home against Messalonskee and on Saturday, also at home, against Mt. Ararat.

• • •

Defending Class B state champion Maine Central Institute is often to a decent start at 6-3 considering the Huskies have had to replace six starters.

“We’re still trying some kids in new spots,” Coach Nancy Hughes said.

The Huskies play in arguably the toughest division in the state in Class B North, which includes at least a half dozen teams capable of winning a regional title. They were beaten 4-1 by Lawrence but two of the other losses to Foxcroft Academy and Belfast, both by a goal, could have gone either way.

“We out-shot Foxcroft 204,” Hughes said. “That was on us. Belfast was a very even game. We out-shot them then just had a defensive breakdown.”

The Huskies return one of the top players in the league in senior forward Madyson Hartley, but she’s been getting double and tripled teamed most of the season.

“She handles it pretty well,” Hughes said.

Junior Ashley Soulietre has taken over in goal and gets defensive support from Christa Carr, Alexis Tardy and Reagan Lary. Hughes has also moved senior Victoria Friend to the back to shore up the defense.

“I’d like to see more consistency,” Hughes said. “We’ve struggled either offensively or defensively.”

The schedule down the stretch isn’t easy. The Huskies travel to Leavitt today then face Gardiner, Messalonskee and Winslow, all at home.

“We’re excited for these games.” Hughes said. “Those are the teams we need to play and beat.”

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