HAMPDEN — Momentum is paramount in a playoff game of any kind, especially when you never let the opponent have it.

Maine Central Institute, the defending Class C field hockey state champion, did just that to Winthrop in the North regional final on Wednesday.

The No. 1 Huskies scored early, then again in the first half, then early again in the second half to put away the No. 3 Ramblers, 3-0, at Hampden Academy.

The Huskies (15-2) needed just over four minutes to find the back of the goal. Addie Williams took control of the ball just outside the attacking zone and zoomed past the Winthrop defense before hitting a long shot past goalie Corinna Coulton.

“Coach really wanted us to explode at the beginning, and really have us set the pace for this game,” Williams said. “And I think having that talk before we went out really set the tone for me.”

“She’s got such an eye for the goal,” MCI coach Nancy Hughes said of Williams.

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A second Huskies goal came just over five minutes later. Victoria Friend’s long pass from the right side found its way to Keely Manzo out near the right post, and Manzo put a shot past Coulton before she could set up for the save.

“We couldn’t catch up after those goals,” Winthrop (13-3-1) coach Jessica Merrill said. “We’ve been scored on early before. We’ve always been able to bounce back, but I think that second goal took a lot of wind out of the sails.”

The Ramblers were awarded three penalty corners in the first half to try and get back in the game, but couldn’t capitalize on any of them.

The Huskies did just that less than three minutes into the second half. The insert went to Madisyn Hartley, who then flipped the ball in the air toward the goal. A Winthrop defender batted the ball down and away from the goal mouth, but Williams was waiting there for the put-back, and she didn’t miss.

“We had talked about that aerial they do. We knew that it was coming at one point,” Merrill said, adding that the talk at halftime was to not let MCI score again, but was to no avail.

“That’s pretty much a planned play, that either it goes into that upper corner or (Addie’s) right there to pick it off as soon as the goalie drops it,” Hughes said. “So important to score that third goal. The second half was pretty even, back and forth.”

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The Ramblers came on strong as the half wore on, but nothing could get in past MCI goalie Elspeth Taylor, who turned away one shot on a penalty corner, then made two more diving saves with seven minutes to go to all but seal the win.

“We had some pretty great shots on goal, but she played a great game,” Merrill said, “and she stopped a lot of balls that would probably go in a lot of goalies. So kudos to her.”

Merrill could only lament the chances her team had, and didn’t capitalize on, that ultimately ended the Ramblers’ season.

“We had more corners than they did, I think we even had more shots, but it just was their night,” Merrill said. “Nothing seemed to go our way tonight. It just seemed to be one thing after another.”

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