WINTHROP — The scores don't lie.
Defending Eastern Class C field hockey champion Winthrop is better than it was a year ago. The Ramblers have improved from beginning to end this season, too.
As evidence, check out the manner in which No. 2 Winthrop has handled No. 7 Boothbay with increasing ease, capped by a 7-1 ouster in Tuesday's regional quarterfinals.
Twelve months ago it was Boothbay jumping out to a surprise lead and giving Winthrop all it could handle in a 3-2 quarterfinal contest. Winthrop swept this autumn's Mountain Valley Conference home-and-home series, 5-1 and 2-0, but inflicted most of the damage in the second half each time.
"We've beaten this team every game we've played them, but they're always scored on us," Winthrop senior tri-captain Mary-Claire Blanchard said. "We didn't want to go in too confident. You go into it playing a game like you would any other team. We won, so we're excited."
Winthrop (13-1-1) wasted no time asserting its championship credentials. Rachel Ingram, Cat Ouellette and Blanchard each scored in a span of just over seven minutes midway through the first half.
Lauren Kaiser applied the exclamation point with a second-half hat trick. Blanchard also scored her second goal after intermission.
The Ramblers will host a semifinal Saturday against either Stearns or Piscataquis. Winthrop's familiarity with Boothbay is an exception in this draw, where no other playoff team is within a 90-minute, one-way drive.
"I think we played really well, and it was a pleasure to see that. They were really scrappy when they came here the first time. If I remember correctly it may have been 1-1 at halftime," Winthrop coach Sharon Coulton said. "When we went to their place it was 2-0, but it took a while to score. What we remember was last year's opening round with them. Three-to-two is not comfortable."
Winthrop dominated, allowing only one Boothbay shot on goal. It broke the shutout. Sarah Caron tipped home Alexandra Clarke's centering pass on the run with 4:11 remaining.
Otherwise, the Seahawks (3-12) had minimal forays into the Ramblers' defensive zone. And when those did materialize, senior Quahnah Cummings prevented the ball from getting anywhere near goalie Alyssa Arsenault.
Cummings and Ouellette (one goal, one assist) rejoined the team this season after missing 2011's run to the state final.
"We graduated a couple of seniors from last year's team, and it feels as if we've filled in those gaps with those two," Coulton said.
Winthrop's balance will be tough for opponents old and new to handle.
Ingram (16 goals), Kaiser (14) and Shauna Carlson (11) lead a team that now has scored 60 goals while allowing only 10.
"Our skill level has always been good, but this year it's the highest it's ever been," Blanchard said. "Especially at the end of the year we started to click as a team really well."