Dec. 30—Winthrop was facing a rebuilding season in the MVC and Leavitt appeared to be an unknown in the KVAC, but everything fell into place for the Ramblers and Hornets — who each stunned the competition and copped state titles.
Their storybook endings in 2021 were the dreams of seniors who lived such a feat as every game became important in the regular season before the teams headed for the playoffs.
For a team that was undergoing renovations, the Ramblers apparently already had their act together and wasted no time rolling up victories in the MVC — eventually finishing the season undefeated at 18-0 with a Class C State title in hand.
But Winthrop's championship victory was a nail-biter to the end before Maddie Perkins scored the game-winner with just over a minute left as Winthrop defeated MCI 3-2. It was the Ramblers' fourth title in program history and second in three postseasons.
"I feel amazing," Perkins said after the game. "As soon as (MCI) 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."
Perkins finished with two goals and an assist, and Madeline Wagner also scored for Winthrop.
In the Class C South regional championship, Perkins stepped up and scored three goals and had three assists while Bella Littler had two goals in Winthrop's 8-1 victory over Lisbon.
"(Perkins) has several school records including most career goals, which she added to tonight," Winthrop coach Sharon Coulton said after the victory back in November. "We hope she could increase that number the next game."
But the hits kept on coming for the Ramblers, who stashed away their fifth consecutive MVC title. The Ramblers, who entered the Class C South playoffs as the No. 1 seed, outscored opponents 100-4 during the regular season.
"We didn't really have a season last year," Coulton said during the season. "We played three or four games and also had nine seniors. Typically, in a normal year, this would be a rebuilding year.
"It's been a joy. We have a small group, but we've had a good year so far. I don't know if anyone thought it would be this type of season, but I did wake up pretty quick when we had our preseason games."
The Hornets also proved to be unpredictable in their quest for the Class B state title.
Leavitt brought home its fourth state title and first since 2012 in a grueling game against Old Town. The Hornets also won championships in 1994 and 1996.
The Hornets (16-3) entered the Class B playoffs as the No. 5 team in the South region. After they disposed of No. 12 Lincoln Academy, the Hornets dropped No. 4 Fryeburg, No. 1 York and No. 2 Cape Elizabeth to reach the state title game.
Leavitt shook off Old Town in the third quarter after breaking a 0-0 tie.
Eve Martineau took the pass on a Leavitt penalty corner and sent the ball toward the goal. Coyotes goalie Chelsey Cote (four saves) made the initial save, but senior forward Ava Gagnon got her stick on the ball and slipped it in the cage for a 1-0 lead with 6:50 remaining in the quarter.
"We are state champions. It's awesome. I am so proud of my teammates," Gagnon said after the game.
"Once we got halfway through (the fourth) quarter, we were like, possession, possession is the name of the game," Leavitt coach Wanda Ward-MacLean said. "We really worked hard to keep control and get up the field and get sticks on (the ball)."
The Hornets coach said the team has faced unique challenges the past couple of years.
"It feels awesome, it really does," Ward-MacLean, said. "The kids have worked really hard for this, and we fought through some adversity through COVID (during the regular season). It's awesome to bring home that gold."
Before heading off to the state championship game, Leavitt scooped up the Class B South title in a 2-0 win over Cape Elizabeth.
Martineau and Maddy Morin each scored a goal in Leavitt's victory over Cape.
"It's special, most of the seniors have played since the seventh grade and this was a goal of theirs since back then," Ward-MacLean said. "So it's extra special for me to do it because not everyone does."
The Hornets and Ramblers were also fortunate to have starting freshmen contribute to their championship runs.
Winthrop's Wagner played a key role in the team's high-powered offense.
"Of course we knew (of Wagner's ability), (Winthrop) is a small town," Coulton said. "In fact, Madeline joined us — we play in a summer league — and she joined us as a middle-schooler."
For Leavitt, Morin started out as a swing player, became a starter and eventually the team's leading scorer in one season.
"She has got some good speed and stick work — especially for a freshman," Ward-McLean said. "She will play anywhere ... and the kids like her because sometimes as a freshman coming in, you get little bit of 'you are only a freshman' type of thing, but that hasn't been that way with her.
"She works extremely hard. We add her ... and a couple of other kids like Addie Twitchell, Emma Beady ... and we add them in with our core of seniors and juniors, and they have given us this spark that we haven't had in the past."