"We were hoping to get it out of the way a little earlier," Winthrop coach Anthony Martucci said of earning of bid in states. "We've had a couple of tough games the last few outs. This was big for us to get it now. Now we can start building the way we want, to see how we'll do in the tournament."
Junior forward Emma Carleton scored two goals to lead the winning effort. Freshman forward Gemma DiMento, senior forward Catie O'Shea, senior forward McKayla Norris and eighth grade forward Sophia Kennedy each scored one goal. Senior goalie Sabrina Dembro tallied 14 saves.
Mustangs junior forward Brenna Forbes scored both of Medford's goals.
The Vikings got things started the right way coming out of the gate. Carleton scored back to back goals in the first four minutes of the opening period. DiMento added an unassisted goal just 20 seconds later. With 4:50 remaining in the first period, O'Shea found the back of the net, also unassisted. Add it all up and the Vikings carried a 4-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
"We try to go with three lines to start the game and see if we can balance them out that way," Martucci said. "It seemed to work well for us. We were fresher and we were moving, and everything seemed to be good. The passing has been good. It's more the passing than anything."
Medford made things interesting in the second period. Forbes scored a goal two minutes into the period to get the Mustangs on the board, down 4-1. Although the Vikings continued to make it a busy afternoon for Mustangs goalie Terrell Pesatoro, the junior netminder stood tall. She denied shot after shot in period No. 2 to keep Medford in the game. After two, the Vikings led 4-1.
"We knew it wouldn't be easy coming into the game," Martucci said. "She's (Pesatoro) a good sized player and she's pretty athletic. She made some nice saves and it was tough. Medford ended up winning the second period because she kind of held out."
After a quiet start from both sides to start the third period, Forbes fired another goal into the back of the net to slice Medford's deficit down to 4-2. Needing an insurance goal to reclaim the momentum, Winthrop scored two and sealed the win. First it was Norris, who scored with 5:22 remaining to make it a 5-2 Vikings lead. Then it was Kennedy, who fired a shot past Pesatoro to cap the 6-2 victory.
"Medford got it to 4-2 on a really nice shot by Forbes," Martucci said. "It starts to get a little nerve wracking because then they can pull the goalie and all that. It was nice to get the spread and grab that fifth goal, that was huge. Then the shorthanded goal was really nice to get."
With a tournament berth sealed, the Vikings now shift their focus to ending the season with a string of wins in hopes of earning a home game. Winthrop has four games remaining on its schedule.
"We're talking about that. We really need to crack down now and we need to get another three or four wins here in the last four games," Martucci said. "If we can grab those wins, that'd be really good for seeding. We'd rather be home. It's tough to go away, we've gone away the past few years and that's been hard on us."
The Vikings (9-4-1) are back on the ice Saturday afternoon (1:30) when they host Marblehead at Larsen Rink. The Magicians and Vikings met earlier this season in a 6-4 Winthrop win on Jan. 3.
"Marblehead's a good team," Martucci said. "They gave us a battle the last time we played them and I expect the same thing. I think we play a little better at Winthrop than we do at Salem State so I'm hoping that plays to our advantage and that's what I'm looking for."