WINTHROP — Frustration was the feeling but optimism was the outlook.
The Winthrop field hockey dominated the first half of Saturday’s Eastern C semifinal, but the Ramblers went to the half still scoreless.
“They were not acting as though they were discouraged,” said Winthrop coach Sharon Coulton.” They were still pretty confident. They were in control of the game.”
As far as the Ramblers were concerned, it would only be a matter of time in the second half.
“I knew we were going to do it,” said junior forward Rachel Ingram. “It was just really frustrating when we couldn’t get a shot in.”
Winthrop struck twice in the second half to earn a 2-0 victory over Stearns. It returns the defending regional champions to Tuesday’s Eastern Class C final.
“When you have a championship, you want to defend it,” said Coulton. “We’re glad to have the chance to do that.”
Mary-Claire Blanchard and Ingram provided the goals for the Ramblers (14-1-1). Winthrop probably could have had more if it weren’t for the efforts of Stearns goalie Whitney Guy. She finished with 17 saves.
“I’m really proud of our goalie,” said Stearns defender and captain Taylor Pelkey. “She played a wonderful game. It was tough on defense but we held them off for a while.”
Winthrop outshot Stearns 11-0 in the first half but couldn’t get one by Guy. Ingram, Blanchard and Lauren Kaiser put continuous pressure on up front and created an abundance of scoring opportunities.
“They had a really quick goalie,” said Blanchard. “She was all over the place, even though she was little. She was tough to get by.”
Coming up empty had the Ramblers exasperated but Winthrop knew it was playing well and assumed the right break would come.
“I felt like we really started to outplay them because we’ve had good passes lately,” said Blanchard. “It showed in this game.”
At halftime, Coulton talked about defense and drew up instructions for a new play off a corner. Otherwise, she knew her team was ready and anxious to break the stalemate.
“I think they were frustrated but that’s not going to help your scoring ability,” said Coulton, whose team scored 53 goals in the regular season.
The Ramblers kept after it in the second half and just 8:05 in that long-awaited goal arrived. Kaiser made a nice rush down the middle. She beat defenders and drew the goalie towards her.
“Lauren was bringing it down the middle,” said Blanchard. “I just went down to post. She brought it right to where the goalie was and waited for the goalie to be right on her. Then she passed it to me, and I just tapped it right in.”
After generating no shots on net in the first half, Stearns tried to counter and produced a pair of shots in the second half. Still, the opportunities were few and far between.
“We felt good at halftime,” said Stearns captain Emily Wark, whose team scored 25 goals during the season and allowed 29 “We wanted to go out and play even harder. It didn’t pay off but I’m proud of my team. We played great defense. It was hard for us offensively to get it down the field.”
Stearns stayed within reach after Pelkey stopped a shot by Blanchard toward an open net.
Winthrop made it 2-0 with 10:07 left in the game. Ingram made a rush between the defense and got the insurance goal despite the efforts of the goalie and a defender.
“I got it and shot it and it went past the goalie,” said Ingram. “Another girl stopped it. I took it off her stick and lifted it in.”
Rambler goalie Alyssa Arsenault earned the shutout, the ninth for a Winthrop team that allowed just nine goals in the regular season.