WINTHROP — From St. Dominic’s opening goal only eight minutes into the final kick of the game, Winthrop’s nerves were sky-high.

The Ramblers, though, quickly responded with a goal by Averie Silva to tie the game, and Jillian Schmelzer scored twice as No. 7 Winthrop hung on to defeat the No. 10 Saints 3-2 and advance to the Class C South girls soccer quarterfinals.

“We’ve worked hard all year and it paid off today,” Winthrop head coach Mark Carey said. “We just never quit, there’s no question about it. There’s no quitting on this team.”

The opening goal was scored after some back-and-forth play from both teams. St. Dom’s Rebecca Zimmerman was a couple yards out of the penalty box when the ball came to her. She then rifled a shot into the top-right corner of the net to give the Saints an early 1-0 lead.

Just one minute later, however, Winthrop pushed the ball into the St. Dom’s box, and Silva slipped the ball home in the left side of the goal for the equalizer.

Schmelzer and the Ramblers were focused on making sure their season did not end Saturday afternoon.

“We really had a goal to transform our team this year and make it to the playoffs, that was our main goal,” Schmelzer said. “We made it this far and we wanted to keep fighting. We didn’t give up, and we knew our seniors were so important and that we don’t want this game to be their last game.”

Just six minutes later, Silva found Schmelzer streaking down the right side of the field with a perfectly placed through ball, and Schmelzer scored to give Winthrop a 2-1 lead.

The Ramblers’ pace played a big role in its win.

“We have some fast girls on our team, and that’s definitely an advantage we have,” Schmelzer said.

For the rest of the first half, St. Dom’s attacked and attacked. Addie Suckow had a good chance with 14 minutes remaining in the half, but Winthrop goalkeeper Brooke Burnham came up with a reaching save to her left.

Schmelzer scored 14 minutes into the second half when Aaliyah Wilson-Falcone passed to the left, allowing Schmelzer to slide it into the left corner of the net to make the Ramblers’ lead 3-1.

“I just saw an opening,” Schmelzer said. “My teammates gave me good through passes, and I was able to run on to them.”

The Saints followed Winthrop’s example from the first half and answered right back just a minute later when Olivia Hallee scored in front of net to cut the deficit back to one goal.

St. Dom’s kept attacking in the second half, but a rough field and unfortunate bounces held off the Saints from finding that tying goal in the dying minutes.

“It’s probably the smallest pitch I’ve ever played on, probably the bounciest pitch I’ve ever played on,” St. Dom’s head coach Peter Keary said. “They were kind of more used to it so it helped them and it was kind of a home field advantage. The majority of the game was played in (Winthrop’s) half in the second half, but they defended well, credit to them. It just was one of those games.”

Winthrop moves on to face No. 2 Traip Academy on Wednesday.

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