Nov. 4—LEWISTON — Madeline Wagner found her stride to give Winthrop/Maranacook its third straight Class C field hockey state championship, and sixth overall, with a 2-1 victory over Dexter/Central on Saturday.
"I think she really wanted a three-peat," Winthrop coach Melissa Perkins said of Wagner. "I think it's the first time in (program) history. The thought of a three-peat was really motivating."
Five minutes after the Tigers tied the game, Wagner took the ball from the Ramblers' 30-yard line, galloped across midfield toward the goal, and on a 3-on-1, took her chance and scored the game-winning goal at Lewiston High School's Don Roux Field.
Wagner said the positioning of her teammates opened up a lane for her to pot the biggest goal of the season.
"It was totally a team effort," Wagner said. "Everyone on the team was doing her job; they were in their spaces, using the space. My teammates being in their spots opened up the field up to me to score."
The goal came with 2:30 remaining in the game.
Perkins said Wagner understood the situation when she took that opportunity.
"I knew that she understood the time and score," Perkins said. "She understood that we were a little tired and we needed to put one in the cage and keep (the game) out of overtime."
Dexter coach Brittany McAllister knew full well what Wagner brings to the field.
"We play in the same summer league as Winthrop, so we had seen her before," McAllister said. "I knew she had a lot of ball-handling skills. That was going to be a challenge to be able to contain her. She had some breaks; her last goal there was proof of it. She's a phenomenal player."
The Ramblers (15-3) survived the Tigers' (15-3) offensive pressure in the first quarter. Dexter had three penalty corners in a two-minute span early on and had a shot go wide on the third corner just past the four-minute mark.
Winthrop played solid defense later in the quarter after Izzy Folsom went off for a green card.
Wagner misfired on Winthrop's first corner attempt nearly 12 minutes into the opening quarter.
Kiera Bennett's shot for the Tigers early in the second quarter missed a teammate at the far post for what would have been an easy tap-in goal.
The Ramblers appeared to take a 1-0 lead when they stuffed the ball past Tigers goalie Sunny Bache, but the ball hit a Winthrop player's knee and didn't count at the 2:20 mark.
After Cyara Harriman had back-to-back saves for Winthrop 10 minutes into the second, Dexter put the ball into the cage. However, it was waived off by the officials.
Harriman isn't used to making two saves in a row.
"Not normally — usually it's one save and my defense will get it out of there," Herriman said. "But this game tested what we have done in practice. Having the long, hard practices definitely helped with everything we have done."
Harriman is not only a freshman, but it's her first year playing field hockey. Perkins said Harriman had an outstanding postseason and her personality fits the position.
"She's the one that makes us all laugh," Perkins said. "She can bring light to the team when we need it."
Wagner broke the 0-0 deadlock at the 12:40 mark when she turned on the jets just outside the circle and ran toward the goal and her shot rolled off Bache's pads and into the cage for a 1-0 advantage.
"It's the state championship game; you have to have an extra gear," Wagner said.
Wagner had another scoring chance with 15 seconds remaining in the first half when she deked her way through the Dexter defense but couldn't get a clean shot on goal.
While playing a player down early in the third quarter, Wagner went on the offensive. Her shot got deflected by a Dexter player, however, and hit off the crossbar.
Wagner had another chance when Dexter was playing two players down because of cards and off a penalty corner she had two shots on goal, but Bache (five saves) stopped both opportunities.
Lily Brown had a shot go wide for Dexter about 12 minutes into the third quarter. Harriman only needed to make one save in the third and she made seven total.
The Ramblers had a penalty corner at the end of the third quarter but couldn't generate a high-quality scoring opportunity.
Dexter had the first corner of the fourth quarter roughly six minutes into the period but couldn't get a shot off. A minute later, Alexandra Vafiades battled through a few Ramblers defenders and tied the game.
"She's phenomenal," McAllister said of Vafiades. "She's the catalyst of our offense. ... She works her butt off. That goal, she was getting pushed off the ball and she held her ground to put it in."
After the goal, the Ramblers went to Harriman to tell her it wasn't her fault for giving up the tying goal.
"It has to get through 11 people before it gets back to our goalie," Wagner said. "That's not on her at all, and we wanted to make sure she knew that for her head to be in the game for the next shot."
Harriman said the team has had her back the entire season.
"Having my team to support me is really great and how positive they are always are towards me," Harriman said. "Anything bad happens, they are always like, 'You got it, keep your head up.' The positivity on this team is really great."
Harriman didn't see a shot for the remainder of the game.
McAllister was pleased with the Tigers' effort.
"They have nothing to hang their heads about," McAllister said. "They played a really tough game out there; we just couldn't find the goal when we needed to. I was proud of them, and they played tough right to the end."
Perkins said the Ramblers have come a long way since the dog days of summer.
"We lost eight starters from our state championship team last year," Perkins said. "We are a super young team. My first game this summer, we played up at Thomas, summer league, we lost 12-1. We have come a long way since then."
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