WINTHROP — There was no other possible outcome. Not on this day. Not on this field.

Following a touching pregame ceremony to honor fallen teammate Kelsey Stoneton, during which the Winthrop High School field hockey team presented Kelsey’s father and mother with her framed, retired jerseys, the Ramblers took to the field with heavy hearts.

They left the field smiling.

Sophomore Sarah Spahr scored her first varsity goal with 6:50 to play in regulation and classmate Corinna Coulton turned back 10 Dirigo shots, including a handful early in the second half, as the Ramblers opened their season with a 2-1 victory over the Cougars.

“This win? (It means) everything,” Coulton said, her voice trailing off as a single tear welled up in her eye. “It’s to kick off our new season; it’s a tribute to Kelsey, and I know she’s here smiling down on us.”

“I do not know what I would have done if we’d lost this game,” Winthrop coach Jessica Merrill said. “I was anticipating it, because I felt I had to be ready in case we did. I was thinking about it all day at school.”


As the minutes ticked off the clock, nervous coaches Merrill and Sharon Coulton paced the sidelines. The few players remaining on the bench smiled. They had it. They knew it.

On the field, the youngsters took control for the Ramblers, giving everyone on hand a glimpse of what’s to come in Winthrop.

Inspired by the pregame ceremony, the Ramblers started strong. They earned a couple of penalty corners quickly in the Dirigo circle, and ultimately forced a penalty stroke after a Cougars defender stopped a sure goal with her foot.

But who would take the shot?

“Emily (Molino), every time she practices her strokes, everyone has been veering off left,” said Merrill, who was considering bringing Corinna Coulton, the keeper, in for the shot. “Every time, she’s been missing the cage. They all veered away.”

On the field, there was little doubt. Molino lined up and buried her chance into the top left corner of the cage.


“I didn’t even tell her, she just stood up there and did it,” Merrill said. “If she’s going to step up and do it, that’s what I want to see.”

Dirigo didn’t back down. The Cougars tied the game with 10:28 to play in the first half on an Ellen Wainwright strike at the tail end of a penalty corner.

The teams went to the half knotted at one.

“We graduated 11 kids last year,” Dirigo coach Gretchen Errington said. “We started six kids who have either never played the game before, or are freshmen. I didn’t know what to expect coming in. Winthrop’s always strong. I prepared myself for a halftime speech about, ‘We’re learning, here’s what we did, here’s what we need to do.’ I was very impressed with how they played. We’ve had two weeks of practice, and it’s been awesome.”

The Cougars never relented in the second, peppering the Winthrop defense, which held strong. When they broke, Coulton was there.

“I try to do all that I can to stop the ball,” Coulton said. “Sometimes, depending on who the team is and what experiences you’ve had with the team and what’s happening, the intensity brings it up.


“Between the seasons, I tried to step up my game. I went to a lot of training,” Coulton added. “I just try to do everything I can to stop the ball.”

Later in the second half, the nerves started to catch up with the sophomore keeper.

“I felt super nervous and I was screaming inside my head,” Coulton said. “I didn’t want to let in another goal, and I didn’t want to let my team down.”

“When you’re a younger, inexperienced team, they don’t really know what it means to take advantage of the situation,” Errington said. “We needed to find a way to score.”

Spahr took care of things at the other end for Winthrop, prompting a celebration on the sideline.

“I was on the stroke line, and my teammate crossed the goal, and I tipped it through the goalie’s legs,” Spahr said. “And then my teammates rushed me.


“I was happy I could help out the team,” Spahr added, “and get my green ball, of course.”

The team awards a green ball to any player on the team who scores a varsity goal for the first time. With hers, Spahr became only the second player currently on the Ramblers roster to have one.

“With a young group, you never know,” Merrill said. “Are they going to back down, or are they going to step up?”

The Ramblers stepped up.

With smiles.

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