WINTHROP — First-year head coach of a young team with no seniors, Melissa Perkins has always told her team to play with no pressure.

Winthrop field hockey has done that all season long — and after doing so once more Tuesday in a 4-2 Class C South semifinal victory over Hall-Dale — the Ramblers are back in the regional championship game for the sixth consecutive season.

“Graduating eight seniors and with none this year, who would have thought we’d be here and be back in regionals?” Perkins said. “I’ve just always told them, ‘No matter what, I get you all back next year, so just go out there, have fun and play,’ and they always do that.”  

Winthrop got a hat trick from Kylee Mansir and a goal and two assists from Madeline Wagner to go up 4-0 before Hall-Dale scored twice in the fourth quarter. The result sent the Ramblers to Thursday’s Southern Maine title game against Spruce Mountain at Fryeburg Academy.

Second-ranked Winthrop (13-3-0) completely dominated possession in the first quarter, rarely letting Hall-Dale have the ball, much less get past the midfield line. The Ramblers’ pressure paid off with 4:02 left in the opening quarter as Wagner found the cage to put the home team up 1-0.

No. 3 Hall-Dale (9-6-1) showed an improved resolve in the second quarter, but the Bulldogs failed to generate any serious chances. Mansir made the visitors pay with two goals in quick succession, doubling the Ramblers’ lead with three minutes left in the half and scoring again with 1:40 remaining.


Blue hairbands are seen on the heads of Winthrop Rambler players before the start of a Class C South field hockey semifinal game Tuesday in Winthrop. Both teams wore the blue hairbands and the Winthrop team also had a green band with initials A and Y for murdered schoolmate Aaron Young. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“That was all Madeline,” Mansir said of the junior Wagner, who assisted on both of her first-half goals. “She carries, and she just always knows what to do and when to pass it. She has really good reads.”

Although Hall-Dale increased the pressure in the second half, the Bulldogs remained unable to score as Winthrop’s defense stood tall. Mansir then made it a hat trick for the Ramblers late in the third quarter before Mira Skehan and Tori Tibbetts got consolation prizes for Hall-Dale in the fourth.

An 18-second moment of silence was held prior to the game to honor the 18 victims of last Wednesday’s mass shooting in Lewiston, three of which were from the Winthrop community. Among them was 14-year-old Aaron Young, who was a freshman at Winthrop High School.

A “LEWISTON STRONG” sign beneath 18 balloons, 15 blue and three green, was on display at the south end of Charlie’s Field at Maxwell Athletic Complex. Winthrop players wore blue ribbons in their hair to accompany their usual green and black ones, and Perkins even sported a blue “LEWISTON STRONG” sweatshirt.

“We were able to practice Saturday, which was great because we got together and were able to talk about playing field hockey and having their mind on something they love going into this week,” Perkins said. “Today, it was very emotional at the start of the game; they lost a classmate, so it’s been tough for them, for sure.”

Winthrop will get a chance to avenge two of its three defeats this season in the Class C South final. Spruce Mountain defeated the Ramblers 3-1 on Sept. 25 in Jay and 2-1 on Oct. 16 in Winthrop.

Winthrop’s Cyara Harriman made three saves in the win, all of which came in the second half. Jade Graham made an impressive eight saves for Hall-Dale.

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