Calvert and Huntingtown, so it’s nice to come out on top at the end of the season, but obviously our eyes are looking forward to regions, so right now we’re just focused on that.”
Leonardtown, which had 12 players reach the scoresheet, was led by Kate Sites, who poured in four goals and an assist. Karson Harris had three goals and an assist, Kate Corrolla added a hat trick and Lilia Cruz added two goals and three assists.
“It was a really good challenge going into playoffs and it’s great to win our 11th straight,” said senior captain Mackenzie Purcell, a defender. “They were really good competition and coming out of the regular season we knew this was going to be our next step. As a team this is probably the best we’ve played. We played very strong-offensive wise and defensive-wise.”
Leonardtown head coach Ken McIlhenny said he was pleased with what he saw against La Plata.
“We played well,” he said. “We set some goals at the beginning of the game for the starters; less than six turnovers, try and win draw controls, running through the groundballs and taking good shots. And we did a good job on our draw controls. Groundballs, I think we can do a little bit better. We weren’t running to them like we should have and gone to open space and our shooting was great today. We were shooting for the pipes which is where we want to shoot and there was some good hustle out there. It was good.”
Cruz open the scoring 12 seconds in and, 60 seconds later, Corrolla made it 2-0.
“Generally speaking, we always want to get out ahead and stay that way,” McIlhenny said. “[We want to] take advantage of the fast breaks and pop them in quick and then relax a little bit.”
La Plata (9-4), which won the Potomac Division, received two goals from Rylee Otten and one apiece from Morgan Leonard, Hope Sine and Hannah Lind. The Warriors received the third seed in Section I of the Class 3A-2A East Region playoffs and are scheduled to host sixth-seeded Thomas Stone at 5 p.m. today.
“The game is mental, it’s all mental and we came in knowing Leonardtown was an awesome team, but I think [my players] let that get to them too much,” La Plata head coach Wendy Walston said. “This wasn’t the La Plata team that I’m used to seeing play. Leonardtown has awesome skill, but I think our skill level has developed a whole lot over the last couple of years, but I didn’t see the level of skill I’m used to seeing from us. It’s kind of tough coming into a game like this [against a powerhouse like Leonardtown], but I just asked them to play and give 100 percent and play as a team and I didn’t see that today.”
McIlhenny said setting goals is the key to keeping his team grounded.
“They work hard in practice and all the girls are club players so they play all year long, but sometimes they don’t play as well as I’d like them to play, so it’s trying to set goals for them each game to try and stay focused and attain those goals,” said McIlhenny, whose team scrimmaged Holton-Arms of Montgomery County in preparation for its 4A East Region playoff run. The Raiders received a bye in the Section II quarterfinals as the section’s top seed and will host Friday against the winner of today’s sectional quarterfinal that has fifth-seeded Great Mills at fourth-seeded North Point. “And if we can do that, we give them a day off or something like that. And if we have to, make the goals harder and harder.”
“I think it’s really just being family,” Parcell said of the team’s long-term success. “All of us have known each other since we were little and have played with each other since we were little. Being really strong with each other and having a little clique has really helped a lot; just being there for each other on and off the field has helped us on the field.”
And then there’s the fact that no one wants to be on the team that snaps the streak.
“It definitely is [a lot of pressure],” Kibler said. “In the Huntingtown game [an overtime win] it popped in our head that, ‘Wow this could be our 11th SMAC championship [team] and we don’t want to be the team that loses that.’”
Leonardtown’s Karson Harris prepares to pass under pressure from La Plata defender Rylee Otten in Monday’s SMAC championship game. Harris netted a hat trick as the Raiders won the title 22-5.