Winthrop field hockey players Maddie Perkins, left, and Carolin Corgan show off the state championship trophy after a 3-2 win over MCI in the Class C final Saturday at Cony High’s Fuller Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Things rarely, if ever, got tough for the Winthrop field hockey team this season. But in the Class C state final, the Ramblers showed they knew what to do when a gut punch came their way.

Maddie Perkins scored the winner with just over a minute left – less than two minutes after the Ramblers lost the lead – and Winthrop defeated MCI, 3-2. The victory brought the Ramblers their fourth title in program history and second in three postseasons, not counting the canceled 2020 season.

Perkins finished with two goals and an assist and Madeline Wagner also scored for Winthrop (18-0).

“I feel amazing,” Perkins said. “As soon as they got that (tying) goal, I had to tell our team, ‘We have three minutes, and if they give us that three minutes, this game is ours.’ And they gave it to us.”

Trinity Leavitt scored both goals for MCI (15-2).

“We knew it was going to be a battle, we knew they were a very good team,” MCI Coach Nancy Hughes said. “We had some opportunities in the circle that we didn’t finish on. … (And) I’d like to have that last three minutes back and defend it better.”

Winthrop spent the season bulldozing opponents, with a 110-5 goals advantage, but the Ramblers had to deal with a deflating turn of events when Leavitt scored on a brilliant feed from Gracie Moore to tie the game at 2 with three minutes to play.

Winthrop senior halfback Maddie Perkins (11) and junior forward Bella Littler (15) celebrate after Perkins scored the winning goal. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

If the Ramblers were reeling, it didn’t show. Winthrop went on the attack, and with 1:14 to play, the Ramblers got their sixth penalty corner of the game. The insert went to Perkins, who passed it along the top of the circle and got the ball right back for a try on goal. Her shot slipped inside the right post.

“Maddie Perkins comes through,” Winthrop Coach Sharon Coulton said.

Winthrop calls the play “Zipper.” With the game on the line, it was the right call.

“It’s our favorite corner,” Perkins said. “We score a lot on it. It’s just a couple of passes back and forth on the top to get the defense moving, get them away from the shot. I saw that I was open, so I pushed it to the post and it went in.”

The Winthrop Ramblers pose with the championship trophy after beating MCI 3-2 for the Class C title Saturday at Cony High School in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Winthrop hasn’t faced much in the way of adversity, but the Ramblers were ready when some came along.

“We did talk about anything being possible in a game like this,” Coulton said. “I am constantly impressed by these girls. They have continued to grow throughout the season.”

The game had action from the start. Just over one minute into the contest, MCI went on the attack, with Hannah Robinson trying a shot from the back right side of the circle. The shot was deflected by Winthrop, but the ball went right to Leavitt, who was alone less than 10 yards in front of the cage. She quickly fired on goal for a score and a 1-0 Huskies lead with 13:44 left in the first quarter.

Winthrop began to get its own chances toward the end of the second quarter. Their first corner came with just over two minutes to go in the quarter, and Julia Letourneau inserted to Perkins, who passed to Wagner and then received a return pass for a shot from the back left side of the circle. Her shot was knocked down, but the ball caromed back to her, and she scored on the rebound.

The corner success was just starting for Winthrop. On the Ramblers’ third corner, Perkins collected a rebound and passed the ball from the left side, and Wagner knocked it home in a crowd for a 2-1 lead with 7:29 left in the third.

The Ramblers were 3 for 6 on corners. MCI was 0 for 6.

Winthrop senior halfback Maddie Perkins (11) shoots past MCI’s Gracie Moore to score the winning goal. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“We have practiced corners a lot,” Coulton said. “We’ve developed different ones all the way through the season. … We feel like we have a lot of good options.”

MCI missed a golden chance to tie the game when it got four straight corners early in the fourth, but the experienced Huskies showed their poise when Moore brought the ball down the right side and sent a perfect pass over to Leavitt, who was on the left doorstep with her stick down. Her second goal tied the game with exactly three minutes remaining.

A couple of minutes later, though, it was Winthrop that was celebrating.

“I’m just really happy,” Wagner said. “We played well as a team, and we did what we knew we could do.”

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