Mariyah Fornier, right, of Spruce Mountain moves the ball while being defended by Hannah Duley of Winthrop during the first half in Winthrop on Friday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

WINTHROP — This field hockey season might fast becoming one for the ages for the defending state champion Winthrop Ramblers, who are comprised of talented underclassmen and one seasoned senior.

That lone senior — Gia Frances — led the offense with two goals and helped pilot the undefeated Ramblers to a 4-0 field hockey victory over the Spruce Mountain Phoenix at Kelsey Ann Stoneton Field on Friday.

Ryleigh Castonguay, left, of Spruce Mountain High School and Maddie Perkins of Winthrop High School compete for the ball during the first half in Winthrop on Friday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Frances said she enjoys playing with the underclassmen, who continue to excel in the Mountain Valley Conference.

“It’s a real learning experience, especially since a lot of (underclassmen) have really bonded together — and there a lot more of them than me,” Frances said. “It’s really different because just last year we had a lot of seniors and this year I am sort of one of the leaders.

“It is an amazing (season) since so many people told us after last year that we wouldn’t get this far. We’d be losing games. It is just an amazing feeling to just show them.”

Winthrop (8-0) field hockey coach Jessica Merrill just smiles when she thinks how a group of young players and a determined senior have conjured up an impressive record at this juncture in the season

“We were pretty pumped for this game,” Merrill said. “The girls knew that we needed to come out strong because they are a fast team and an aggressive team, and we knew if we were able to put some in early, hopefully that would keep the momentum going for us and keep them out sorts, and it worked.

“(She) Frances is our only senior and she’s really stepping up big for us. I have a really young team. I graduated nine seniors and eight started off last year’s team. It is nice. We didn’t think we would be doing this right now. We thought we would be coming on later in the season.”

Avri Armandi, left, of Spruce Mountain High School and Lindsay Letourneau of Winthrop High School compete for the ball during the first half in Winthrop on Friday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The Phoenix (3-3) did all they could to ward off the rip-roaring Ramblers in the first half and forced them into a defensive posture from the get-go.

“Winthrop is always impressive,” Spruce Mountain field hockey coach Katie Trask said. “They always have their game face on and they are always ready — no matter how old they are, they are ready. Jess does a great job with them.

“We are typically a second-half team, but we just couldn’t finish in the goal. I liked the way the girls hustled and kept spread out, really moving the ball up the field. We had a couple of great drives inside the 25. We just couldn’t get a stick on it and finish it off.”

Frances took control of freshman Hannah Duley’s pass and promptly deposited the ball in the net at 24:32.

About 15 minutes later, junior Brooklyn Gaghan scored unassisted. Her goal at 9:41 provided the Ramblers with a 2-0 lead going into halftime.

Spruce Mountain fared a little better in the second half as the blazing sun started taking a toll on both teams. But the Phoenix still couldn’t scored despite several opportunities.

With 20:47 left in the game, Frances scored again without assistance. Duley completed the scoring at 9:11, popping the ball in the net off a goalie deflection.

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