OAKLAND, Maine — Junior forward Maranda Poulin couldn’t have picked a better time to notch her first career hat trick.
Poulin scored all three goals as the Foxcroft Academy Ponies turned in a dominant performance to beat Winthrop-Monmouth 3-0 in Saturday’s Class C field hockey state final at the sun-drenched Messalonskee High School Field.
The Ponies completed an 18-0 season while claiming their first state title since 2013. They allowed only three goals all season.
Defending state champ Winthrop-Monmouth wound up 16-2. It was only the second time this season that the Ramblers surrendered more than two goals in a game.
The Ponies attempted 22 shots to Winthrop’s five and goalie Abbie Weymouth was required to make just one save.
Winthrop freshman goalie Madison Weymouth turned in an outstanding performance as she wound up with 15 saves including several gems.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” said a smiling Poulin, whose goals gave her a team-high 21 on the season. “It feels amazing. After I got the first goal, I wanted to keep on going and score more. I pushed myself.”
Poulin scored the only goal the Ponies would need off their first penalty corner. Aleshia Raymond made the insertion pass and Foxcroft got off a shot that Weymouth saved.
“It hit off her pad and I got it and put it between her pads,” said Poulin, who scored with 15:58 remaining in the first half.
After controlling the latter stages of the first half, the Ponies took their game up another notch in the second half as they stormed the Winthrop cage.
Their tenacity was rewarded 6:13 into the half when another penalty corner proved fruitful.
Raymond’s insertion pass went to Cassidy Marsh, who fired a shot that was saved by Weymouth. A scramble ensued and Poulin was there again to convert.
“I went around the goalie and put it in,” Poulin said.
“We’re not usually known for being very good on our corners. But we did very well on them today,” said junior left wing Ava Rayfield.
“We practice them a lot,” said Raymond, a sophomore midfielder.
Poulin completed her hat trick 6:21 later by finishing off a beautiful passing sequence.
Rayfield had the ball at the top of the circle and fed it to Marsh in the middle. Marsh quickly slid the ball to the far post, where Poulin simply had to direct it into the open cage.
“[Poulin] is a little squirrel,” FA coach Stephanie Smith said. “She gets into that goal cage [area] every time. She’s feisty and is always in the right place at the right time.”
“She played amazing. We all did,” said Rayfield.
The Ponies were superior in all aspects of the game.
They swarmed the ball, constantly intercepted Rambler passes with their anticipation and aggressiveness and limited Winthrop-Monmouth to precious little time in the penalty circle.
“They took us out of everything we wanted to do,” Winthrop-Monmouth coach Jessica Merrill said. “They shut us right down. They did a real good job keeping their sticks low and anticipating what we wanted to do.
“They were running on all cylinders. They were the best team we’ve faced all year, by far,” she said.
Merrill praised her goalie Weymouth, saying “you couldn’t ask for more from a freshman.”
Rayfield said the Ponies have have been a slow-starting team and they addressed that on Saturday.
“We needed to play we have been playing in the second halves of games right at the beginning of the game and we did well with that today,” Rayfield said.
The work of Jenna Anderson and Meghan Spooner in the midfield to go with the play of Natalie Robinson, Karis Dankert and Sheryl Chase in the back line complemented the three-pronged attack featuring Rayfield, Poulin and Marsh.
Sophomore Maddie Perkins was the Ramblers’ primary threat and had several nice rushes up the field, but FA’s layers of defense prevented her from generating scoring chances.
“It was hard to penetrate and whenever she had the ball, there was nobody to pass to because they were always in front of our players,” said Merrill, who had just one senior on her roster.
Freshman Isabella Littler and junior Lindsay Letourneau played well for Winthrop along with Kerrigan Anuszewski and Weymouth.