Winthrops’ Kinli Dibiase controls the ball past Dirigo’s Ashley Walker in the season opener field hockey game at Winthrop High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Winthrops’ Kinli Dibiase controls the ball past Dirigo’s Ashley Walker in the season opener field hockey game at Winthrop High School on Wednesday afternoon.

WINTHROP — The way Winthrop was playing in its opener Wednesday, a late timeout to set up a potential game-winning goal shouldn’t have been necessary. Yet despite dominating in scoring chances and possession, the Ramblers found themselves tied with Dirigo with time winding down.

So head coach Jess Merrill called a timeout, using the moment to both motivate her team and set up a play.

“Do you want to go to overtime?” Merrill asked her team.

Based on the way her players responded out of the timeout, they didn’t.

It took just 14 seconds for the Ramblers to score the go-ahead goal, and it stuck in a 2-1 MVC field hockey season opener at Kelsey Ann Stoneton Memorial Field.

“They responded the way I wanted them to,” Merrill said. “We executed like we should have.”

“We all talked about we need to all get to our spots and execute in the circle,” junior Bre Feeney said. “It was crossed when we were all in our spots and I got open.”

Feeney was to the left of the goal when Elle Blanchard’s cross from the right came in. The ball made its way through traffic, then Feeney made sure it made its way into the back of the goal, and made sure her team didn’t waste what was a solid first effort of the fall season.

The Ramblers outshot the Cougars 11-3, and out-cornered them 9-1. The first of those corners came just two minutes in, and there were three more in the first half and another five in the second. Yet the Ramblers couldn’t muster a goal off any of them.

“It’s surprising to me that we’re not, just because it’s the same corner unit as last year, for the most part,” Merrill said. “It’s just trying to find that confidence.”

Lone senior Kinli Dibiase finally got Winthrop (1-0) on the board 20 minutes in, taking the ball from the right corner, along the end line, then firing a tough-angle shot past Dirigo senior goalie Morgan Morrow.

“What we work on a lot is curling, which is going down diagonally and then curling horizontally down the baseline,” Dibiase said. “And then usually we look to cross it up, but I didn’t see anyone up, so I just said, ‘OK, might as well try it,’ and I just stuck it right behind the goalie.”

“Huge momentum builder I think,” Merrill said. “It was good for her because we’ve only scored a few goals in preseason and none of them have been her. It’s good to get her confidence going, and it gets the team’s confidence going.”

That goal stood for more than 20 minutes of game time, all the while Morrow metaphorically stood on her head.

Dirigo (0-1) coach Gretchen Curtis called Morrow’s play (nine saves) “unbelievable.”

“She’s a great goalie,” Curtis added.

Morrow’s work made it possible for Dirigo to tie the game 11 minutes into the second half. The Cougars got their first push on offense, and Ashley Perrault made the most of it by pushing a shot past Winthrop goalie Aiva Agri in the middle of a scrum.

“It was just pushing to try to get it in, and somebody got a stick on it,” Curtis said. “Any goal is a good goal. It doesn’t matter how it gets in there.”

Winthrop wasted a pair of penalty corners soon after, then Dirigo got a shot on its lone penalty corner, but Agri was there for the save five minutes before the Ramblers’ game-winning goal.

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Dirigo’s Alexa Varnum tries to get a stick in as Winthrop’s Moriah Hajduk controls the ball during the season opener field hockey game at Winthrop High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Dirigo’s Alexa Varnum tries to get a stick in as Winthrop’s Moriah Hajduk controls the ball during the season opener field hockey game at Winthrop High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Winthrop’s Moriah Hajduk faces off against Dirigo’s Kaiya Martin in the season opener field hockey game at Winthrop High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Winthrop’s Moriah Hajduk faces off against Dirigo’s Kaiya Martin in the season opener field hockey game at Winthrop High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Winthrop’s Katie Perkins takes off down the field with the ball as Dirigo’s Ashley Walker tries to keep the pace in the season opener field hockey game at Winthrop High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Winthrop’s Katie Perkins takes off down the field with the ball as Dirigo’s Ashley Walker tries to keep the pace in the season opener field hockey game at Winthrop High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Winthrop’s Moriah Hajduk and Dirigo’s Ashley Walker face off in the season opener field hockey game at Winthrop High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Winthrop’s Moriah Hajduk and Dirigo’s Ashley Walker face off in the season opener field hockey game at Winthrop High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Winthrop’s Moriah Hajduk drives the ball down the field while being followed by Dirigo’s Alexa Varnum in the season opener field hockey game at Winthrop High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Winthrop’s Moriah Hajduk drives the ball down the field while being followed by Dirigo’s Alexa Varnum in the season opener field hockey game at Winthrop High School on Wednesday afternoon.

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