Winthrop field hockey players Maddie Perkins, left, and Carolin Corgan run along the fence in front of fans after winning the Class C state championship on Nov. 6 at Cony High’s Fuller Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

It may have been the first season back to normalcy from the COVID-19 pandemic for area field hockey teams, but once the season got rolling, the usual contenders came out of the woodwork.

Two teams with explosive offenses were on paths to one another for the Class C state championship game in Winthrop and Maine Central Institute. The Ramblers turned to a familiar face to run the program before the season in Sharon Coulton, who led Winthrop to its first two state championships in 1988 and 1989 and was serving as an assistant coach under former coach Jessica Merrill.

Winthrop didn’t carry a large group — 16 players — but Coulton knew there was talent on the team.

“Small, but mighty, we call ourselves,” Coulton said early in the season.

Mighty was the key term, especially with top players like Maddie Perkins, Elle Folsom, Autumn Gerry and Emma Shuman. The Ramblers rolled to a 14-0 record in the regular season, scoring 95 goals while allowing just four goals. In the postseason, the Ramblers outscored opponents by a 15-1 margin through the regional final, capturing the Class C South championship.

Likewise, in Class C North, Maine Central Institute entered the season with equal potential, from a group that had put in lots of time in the offseason.

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“We knew going into the season that we had a special group of girls,” MCI head coach Nancy Hughes said.

It helped that the Huskies had an unselfish group of players, looking to make the extra pass instead of the immediate shot. It also helped that MCI had one of the best offensive threats in the state in Gracie Moore.

“We scored a lot of goals because we had a lot of girls who could pass to someone else,” Hughes said. “We didn’t have girls who were selfish. Sometimes they should have passed when they should have shot. But we were able to get most of the starters, I think all of our starters except our goalie and two of our backs, all scored.”

MCI would go 12-1 during the regular season — its only loss coming to Class B Lawrence — while outscoring opponents by an 83-12 margin. The Huskies were perfect in the playoffs on the way to capturing the C North title, outscoring opponents by an 11-0 margin.

Maine Central Institute’s Gracie Moore fires a shot on Foxcroft Academy goalie Destiny Weymouth during the Class C North field hockey championship game Nov. 3 in Topsham. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

The path of Winthrop and MCI led to the Class C title game at Cony High School in Augusta on Nov. 6. The matchup was perfect between the two teams, leading to late game heroics. Down 2-1 to Winthrop late in the game, Moore notched a goal for MCI, tying the game 2-2 with three minutes to play. But a corner opportunity with just over a minute left led to a Perkins goal, a 3-2 win, Winthrop’s four state title, its second in the past three seasons.

“I feel amazing,” Perkins said after the game. “As soon as they got that goal, I had to tell our team ‘We have three minutes, and if they give us that three minutes, this game is ours.’ And they gave it to us.”

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It would prove to be the final game for Hughes, who is stepping down from her role as head coach to spend more time with her family. Hughes led the Huskies to a Class C title in 2015 and a Class B championship in 2017.

“We talked a lot all season about what our final goal was,” Hughes said. “We met that goal. We were playing on the final day of the season. I was very proud of their commitment. I didn’t do double-sessions this year for preseason because my whole team was basically training all summer.”

Winthrop and MCI would not be the only ones to taste title opportunity. In Class A, the always-mighty Skowhegan field hockey team entered one of the more unique seasons of head coach Paula Doughty’s tenure. The River Hawks had more than half of its roster made of up freshmen and sophomores, with little to no varsity experience.

Oxford Hills goalie Gabrielle Wright, left, watches as Skowhegan’s Sydalia Savage (1) right, leaps for joy after scoring the go-ahead goal in the fourth quarter of the Class A North title game Nov. 3 in Topsham. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“Our team is weird, because all our freshmen didn’t have any season last year,” Doughty said at the beginning of the season. “All our sophomores only had that (shortened pandemic) season last year, which was a joke. … Really, two-thirds of our team has never played this before. I’m happy with my kids. They’re stepping right up. The older kids are about 15-16 (years old). I don’t have the 17-18s that I normally do.”

It seemed to make no difference, as Skowhegan finished the regular season 14-0, not only rolling opponents along the way, but also showing to have Class A North’s toughest defense, allowing just two goals. The River Hawks cruised to the A North final, beating Oxford Hills 2-1 for their 20th straight regional title. Skowhegan finally met its match in the Class A title game, as Cheverus would beat the River Hawks 4-1 on Nov. 6 at Cony High School.

Lawrence finished just short of claiming the Class B North title, falling 1-0 to Old Town in the regional final on Nov. 3 at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham. The Bulldogs (13-1) entered the B North playoffs as the No. 1 seed after finishing the regular season with an 11-0 record, led by the play of Hope Bouchard, who was named the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B Player of the Year. During the regular season, Lawrence outscored opponents by a 62-5 margin.

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Staff writer Drew Bonifant contributed to this report.

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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