SANFORD — Winthrop’s field hockey state title defense has reached the Class C championship game.

The Ramblers earned the C South regional title Wednesday with a 4-1 win over Saint Dominic Academy at Sanford High School.

The region championship is Winthrop’s third in a row. After representing C North in the past two Class C title games, Winthrop will be the South entry in Saturday’s game at Messalonskee High School. The Ramblers will face Foxcroft, which defeated Dexter 2-1 in the C North final Wednesday.

Winthrop coach Jessica Merrill said Wednesday’s effort was the top-seeded Ramblers’ best of the season.

“I thought we came out intense, we executed how we wanted to, we kind of lacked (execution) in the second half, we knew (St. Dom’s) came out strong against Oak Hill, we knew we had to match it,” Merrill said. “The girls played their best all season.”

Maddie Perkins led the way for Winthrop with two goals and an assist.

The Ramblers (16-1) have played all their playoff games on turf so far while Wednesday was the Saints’ (12-5) first time on an artificial surface in the postseason.

“There was some time for adjustment, but I feel we did our best,” St. Dom’s coach Abigail Bowie said. “There’s always something you think you can do differently. I think (Winthrop) played a heck of a game and we did our best.”

Nearly halfway through the first half, Perkins who put the Ramblers up 1-0 with a goal off Winthrop’s fourth penalty corner attempt of the game.

“They only had one girl flying to the top of the circle, if you pulled around her and took a shot, someone was bound to touch it and have a free shot,” Perkins said.

The Saints tried to focus their defense on Perkins, especially on penalty corners.

“On their offense, they try to flip it and Maddie Perkins usually takes all their shots,” Bowie said. “We were running out to her and (tried to) keep the ball away.”

After the Ramblers’ leading scorer opened the scoring, freshman Isabella Littler made it 2-0 with her first career goal with about 10 minutes remaining in the opening half.

“All season she has been this close — she’s been so close all season long, just a half-a second off,” Merrill said. “When (St. Dom’s) took the timeout, we talked about lifting the ball because they have people in the cage. She did it and (had) success.”

The lead was extended to 3-0 with about five minutes remaining in the half as Perking recorded her second point of the day when she set up Gia Francis for a goal.

“We knew they had a girl behind (the goalie) as a a sweeper,” Francis said. “We were trying to lift it as much as we could into the goal even in hopes of getting a penalty stroke. It was one of those lucky goals …”

In the second half, St. Dom’s was able to get some sustained pressure early in the offensive zone, but couldn’t create any real scoring chances.

Winthrop was content holding onto the three-goal lead for most of the second half. Perkins scored on a penalty stroke to make the lead 4-0 with about nine minutes remaining in the contest.

Anna Cote scored for the Saints in the final minute off a penalty corner, the first goal the Ramblers have surrendered in the playoffs. Winthrop has outscored its opponents 17-1 in the postseason.

“Coming out of the second half, one of the focus points was to win the half,” Bowie said. “We tied the half; in my book, that’s a win.”

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