Winthrop’s Katie Perkins skies the ball over Oak Hill’s Meagan Sheehy during the first half of Monday’s field hockey game in Wales.Winthrop’s Bre Feeney takes a shot on goal as Oak Hill goalie MacKenzie Thibeault moves over to make a save during Monday’s game in Wales.
LITCHFIELD – Coming into the season, Winthrop head coach Jess Merrill was concerned with her team’s ability to score goals. Those concerns were laid to rest Monday, as the Ramblers scored five on Oak Hill en route to a 5-1 win.
“Scoring has been an issue for us in the preseason,” Merrill said. “So to see them kind of come together, find the spots, be where we needed to be, we spent a lot of time on that specifically, so to see it all come together it’s… exciting.”
Winthrop controlled most of the first half, getting off six shots and earning eight penalty corners. The midfield was a dominant area for the Ramblers as it took Oak Hill five minutes before moving the ball into Winthrop’s end. Center midfielder Katie Perkins controlled the midfield for the Ramblers.
“Katie Perkins, she is just a wall,” Merrill said. “She directs our front line and if it wasn’t for her we wouldn’t be as offensively aggressive as we are. The way we used our aerials and we were able to switch fields, it’s starting to come together for us.”
At around 21 minutes remaining, Winthrop’s offense turned on the attack, earning three penalty corners in three minutes and pelting Oak Hill goalkeeper Mackenzie Thibeault with multiple shots on goal.
With just under 17 minutes remaining, the Ramblers got moving up the middle, with Kinli Dibiase leading Bre Feeney with a pass into the circle. Feeney’s pass in front of goal was tapped in by Elle Blanchard, getting Winthrop an early 1-0 lead.
In the second half, it was all Dibiase. Six minutes into the half, Dibiase made a blazing run down the right side and made a clean pass through the middle but the shot was missed. Four minutes later, Dibiase put two shots on target but were deflected away.
The barrage of shots were rewarded when Dibiase made a solo run down the left side and slotted the ball past Thibeault. Much of Winthrop’s possession in the second half was in front of goal.
“We spent a lot of time in practice working on moving the ball specifically for that purpose because we knew that they were very good defensively in the circle,” Dibiase said. “We knew we wanted to keep them on their toes to get the best opportunities and so we just practiced that and capitalized on it.”
Winthrop was able to put up a few more shots on Oak Hill, but didn’t score again until there were eleven minutes remaining. That’s when Dibiase flashed a pass across the face of goal onto the stick of Kerrigan Anuszewski who tapped in the pass.
Three minutes later, Dibiase engaged in a slick give-and-go with Bre Feeney to put in her second goal of the match.
Winthrop added one more goal from Moriah Hajduk with six minutes remaining. Late into the match, a penalty shot was awarded to Oak Hill and Zoe Buteau scored off the crossbar to put the Raiders on the board.
“We had some really great moments but then we had some moments where we really broke apart,” Oak Hill head coach Betsy Gilbert said. “We have a lot of new girls… We have a lot of work ahead of us but, besides that four minute period where we completely crashed, I thought they did really well. I was happy with the effort from the girls.”
For Winthrop, it’s all about working to return to the North Regional Class C final.
“Our expectations are to play far into October,” Merrill said. “There’s no reason why we can’t go as far as we did last year, or even further.”