OAKLAND — Madeline Wagner cited coach Sharon Coulton’s pep talks. Bella Littler credited the “flame in my stomach.” No matter the method, Winthrop found a way Saturday to come from behind and win its second straight Class C state field hockey championship.

Wagner scored five minutes into overtime as Winthrop defeated Maine Central Institute, 2-1, at Messalonskee High School. The Ramblers (16-2), who defeated the Huskies 3-2 in last year’s final, trailed 1-0 in third quarter before Littler tied the game later in the period.

Stationed to the left of the MCI goal during the 7-on-7 overtime, Wagner took the ball from teammate Izzy Folsom and scored a wraparound goal past Huskies goalie Chi Chi Rivera (five saves).

Wagner’s mission was to control the ball as best she could before attempting the shot.

“(The coaches) have been working with me all season to not force it into the goalie’s pads and into that post, so I really tried to get it around and hope for the best on that shot and it happened to go in,” the sophomore said after she and her teammates posed for one of many group victory photos just outside the field. “Sometimes I try and reverse it at that post and it goes wide, so that’s why I kind of spun around and get it back in the middle.

“It’s amazing,” Wagner added. “We went into this game a little nervous because we wanted to repeat, and we got it done.”


The title was a fitting farewell present for longtime Winthrop coach Sharon Coulton, who announced last week she would retire after the season. Coulton guided the Ramblers from 1981-2012 before returning last season after Jessica Merrill left to take the same position at Gray-New Gloucester.

The championship was Coulton’s fourth as a head coach, although when asked if she had any reflections on her career, she simply smiled and said, “I can’t do that right now.”

The season ended on a tough note for MCI (13-4-1), which needed overtime to put away Mount View (2-1) and Dexter/Central (1-0) before shutting out Dirigo 2-0 on Wednesday to take the C North crown. Ella Bernier scored MCI’s goal about 5 minutes into the third period (the scoreboard’s power went out at halftime), and on defense she was a force, clearing out the ball and driving down the sideline. In goal, Rivera wasn’t afraid to dash out of the cage to stop the ball.

Winthrop field hockey coach Sharon Coulton looks on during the Class C state championship game Saturday against MCI at Messalonskee High School in Oakland. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“It was a great game,” MCI coach Terri-Jean Wilkinson said. “We left everything on the field.

“(Chi Chi) is a beast. It just happened bad on that one last play.”

After a first quarter that saw little in the way of scoring chances, the teams stepped up their attack in the second. Rivera made a diving stop with 5:10 left in the half, and followed that up with a couple more lunges with less than 2 minutes left. Winthrop counterpart Madison Weymouth was no slouch herself with a couple of kick saves among her four on the day.


“Madison had an outstanding game,” Coulton said. “They put a lot of pressure on our defense, and we handled it well.”

Bernier broke the ice five minutes into the third period. Ashlee Jarvis passed the ball through a pair of Winthrop defenders to Bernier, who fired the ball to the left of the cage, just out of Weymouth’s reach. The goal ended the Ramblers’ streak of eight straight shutouts.

Coulton went into speech mode. “They needed to respond, and I told them anything could happen,” the coach said.

Wagner was a little more elaborative: “It’s always motivating when we’re down because (Coulton) always has the best speeches, about staying in, keeping our heads up and coming back and scoring quickly. Those words of encouragement from the coach and the rest of our players and captains was really great.”

In didn’t take long for the Ramblers to respond. Littler knotted the score with just under four minutes left in the period. The senior reached for the ball out of a scrum, fell as she shot to the left side and hoped for the best.

“I went as low as I could, and when I went low I fell back, and I just laid there,” Littler said. “I was praying it was going in. And everybody just started screaming. I felt so good.


MCI goalie Chi Chi Rivera makes a diving save with her stick hand as players leap over her during Class C field hockey state championship game against Winthrop on Saturday at Messalonskee High School in Oakland. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“After the first goal, I kind of fired myself up,” Littler said. “My stomach hurt and there was this flame in my stomach and I was like, ‘We came here for a reason.’ And that’s what fired me up.”

As time wound down in regulation, Winthrop made an all-out attack on the MCI net. The Ramblers’ Emma Shuman was stymied by Rivera, who again burst out of the cage for the ball, with 4 minutes left, and shots by Lucy Vachon and Caroline Cogan landed just wide of the open net.

MCI’s Jenessa Foster made a couple quality shots in overtime, the second going just wide left.

Winthrop had 10 penalty corners to MCI’s eight.

Winthrop handily beat Telstar and Oak Hill in its first two tournament games, but edged Lisbon in double overtime 1-0 in Wednesday’s C South final on Brooke Belz’s goal.

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