Sports

Resilient Winthrop edges Dexter for regional field hockey crown

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HAMPDEN — The Winthrop Ramblers had two potential game-winning goals waved off in the second half of the Oct. 24 Class C North field hockey final against Dexter Regional High School.

But the Ramblers shook it off and annexed their first regional championship since 2012, nipping Dexter 2-1 on junior midfielder Kate Perkins’ goal with 3:19 left in the first overtime.

Top seed Winthrop (15-1-1) advanced to the state championship. Second seed Dexter finished at 14-3.

“They were both judgment calls. But we weren’t going to give up. We knew what we had to do,” said Winthrop junior forward Kinli DiBiase, who set up the game-winner, which came off a penalty corner.

Kerrigan Anuszewski took the corner and slid it over to Moriah Hajduk in the middle of the circle and she quickly tapped it over to DiBiase.

DiBiase stick-handled toward the goal and flipped it over to the far post where Perkins extended her stick and directed it home.

“On that play, I either go to the (penalty stroke) spot or to the far post. Kinli was up top so I went to the far post,” said Perkins, who noted that DiBiase’s pass was going to sail just wide until she diverted it home.

“We work a lot on 7-(versus)-7,” said DiBiase, whose team had the lion’s share of possession in the overtime.

In the extra period, the teams each remove four players as the game goes from 11 versus 11 to 7-on-7.

“We just didn’t get enough players back and that led to their penalty corner,” said Dexter senior midfielder Rebecca Batron.

The game featured momentum swings with each team having periods of dominance.

Winthrop carried the play in the first half and was rewarded when junior defender Layne Audet staked the Ramblers to a 1-0 lead with 8:57 left in the half.

The Ramblers had numbers in the circle and Audet burst into the circle and fired a waist-high shot past Dexter goalie Amanda Haskell into the short-side corner.

Winthrop’s goal energized Dexter and the Tigers nearly tied it on their first penalty corner with five minutes left in the half.

Victoria Asbury’s shot from the left of the circle bounced through a forest of legs and just rolled wide of the far post.

Cheyenne Beem had a long-range effort with two minutes remaining but that also slid left of the cage.

The Tigers carried that momentum into the second half and Batron tied it 3:48 into the period with a penalty stroke.

A goal-bound shot was kicked off the line by a Winthrop defender, which produced the penalty stroke. Winthrop goalie Aiva Agri had no chance on Batron’s perfectly-placed sizzler to the goalie’s right.

Dexter had the better of the play for the first 20 minutes of the second half but the Ramblers, after having their two goals disallowed, dominated the last 10 minutes.

They nearly won it in in the waning seconds of regulation when a pass across the goalmouth was missed by a Rambler, who was staring at a wide-open cage.

Winthrop used an effective aerial game to fuel its attack and clear the ball out of danger.

DiBiase, Nora Conrad and Hajduk were constant threats as were Dexter’s Batron, Kaitlyn Webber and 40-goal scorer Hayley Rossman.

Rossman nearly gave the Tigers a lead midway through the second half when her shot deflected up in the air and appeared as though it might drop behind Agri.

However the goalie reached up and batted it away.

Agri finished with five saves on 14 shots while Haskell had four stops on eight shots including a couple of gems off Hajduk’s reverse hit and DiBiase’s tester early in the game.

“We played very well,” said Batron. “They were the best C team we’ve played.”

DiBiase said Dexter was a quality opponent that gave them a tough test.

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