HAMPDEN, Maine — A play designed three days earlier earned No. 2 Winthrop the Eastern Maine Class C field hockey championship with a 1-0 victory Tuesday over top-seeded Dexter at the Hampden Academy field.
Winthrop (15-1-1) will face Western Maine titlist Lisbon (16-0-1) for the state Class C championship Saturday at the University of Maine in Orono. Lisbon, the West’s No. 1 seed, downed No. 2 North Yarmouth Academy 1-0 Tuesday.
Senior forward Lauren Kaiser scored the Ramblers’ lone goal off a first-half penalty corner.
With 16:30 remaining in the first half, Winthrop junior midfielder Jessica Ames inserted the ball from a spot on the baseline to the right of Dexter goalie Kolby Kain. Ames drilled the ball out to senior midfielder Shauna Carlson, who quickly passed to Kaiser.
The senior captain blasted the ball home before the Dexter defenders could adjust.
“We came up with this in our last game against Stearns,” said Carlson of the V-shaped play that gives her two passing options.
The primary defender covered Mary Claire Blanchard, so Carlson passed to Kaiser.
“They definitely gave me a lot of room on the post,” said Kaiser.
Carlson was surprised that Kaiser was that open.
“They have a really good fly, but Lauren’s shot was so fast, I didn’t even see it go in,” said Carlson. “I just saw people jumping in the air and I was like, ‘Oh my god, we just scored.’”
There was a lot of time left, though, and Winthrop was unable to add an insurance goal.
“I was feeling really good about the first half,” said Ramblers coach Sharon Coulton. “The second half we played more of a defensive game. I don’t have to tell you which was more stressful.”
The Tigers (15-2) came out hard in the second half but could not equalize.
“I give credit to Dexter for stuffing it up [on defense],” said Coulton. “Fortunately, our defense was able to respond.”
“They have a really strong defense,” said Dexter senior forward Sarah Eastman. “It was hard to get balls through. They were cutting off our passes, and they really kept their sticks down.”
Winthrop goalie Alyssa Arsenault kicked out one Tiger shot with about 21 minutes left in the game, and a shot by Dexter sophomore sweeper Marissa Mitchell off a penalty corner with nine minutes left was knocked out by the Rambler defense.
“They were just beating us to balls,” said Eastman. “And we weren’t cutting [in front of the defenders].”
She said the Tigers’ anxiety level was rising as the clock wound down.
Eastman had a shot with four minutes to go that was stuffed, and two Dexter tries at a penalty corner in the closing seconds yielded a shot by Mitchell after time expired, but her attempt went wide right.
“We played a little bit more defensively [in the second half],” said Kaiser. “We knew we needed to not let them score more than we needed to score another goal.”