Lions Blanked In First State Fi­nal

Lib­erty scores sin­gle goal in each half, ends cham­pi­onship drought dat­ing back to 1982

Record Observer - - Sports - By CHRIS KNAUSS ck­nauss@star­dem.com

Lib­erty 2 — Queen Anne’s 0

CH­ESTER­TOWN — It’s been a long time since Lib­erty hoisted a state cham­pi­onship tro­phy in field hockey. It’s been never since Queen Anne’s played in a state fi­nal.

Those facts both changed Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon at Washington Col­lege.

Lib­erty High’s Brooke Hef­fler scored two min­utes into the Class 1A state cham­pi­onship game and Han­nah Miller added a goal in the sec­ond half, as the Lions of Lib­erty de­feated the Lions of Queen Anne’s, 2-0.

Lib­erty, which last won a state cham­pi­onship in 1982, fin­ished the sea­son on an eight-game win­ning streak and se­cured its eighth shutout. Head coach Brenda Strohmer saw her team cap its cham­pi­onship sea­son with a 17-2 record.

“Our stick-to-stick pass­ing is good. We look up a lot to see the open player,” Strohmer said. “Both of our goals were scored on, you know, boom-boom in.”

Af­ter Lib­erty’s early goal, both teams raced up and down the fast ar­ti­fi­cial turf on Ki­bler Field and both teams pro­duced scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties but no fur­ther goals in the first half. Queen Anne’s con­trolled play through­out the sec­ond half but still couldn’t get the ball past Lib­erty’s sopho­more goalie Grace Fen­ner, who made 10 saves.

Queen Anne’s fin­ished with 12 penalty-cor­ner op­por­tu­ni­ties com­pared to five for Lib­erty. Queen Anne’s ju­nior goalie Emily Lane­hart stopped four shots.

Queen Anne’s, which had won 11 straight games, fin­ished the school’s best sea­son in field hockey with a school-record 14-2-1 mark.

Lib­erty’s Ash­ley Cald­well pushed the ball up the right wing and crossed the ball in front of the goal area where Hef­fler redi­rected it with a rolling shot into the left side of the cage, 1 minute and 59 sec­onds into the game.

“I said if we score first that’s good, but don’t be sur­prised if they score first be­cause we know they’re a tough team,” Strohmer said. “... We came back and scored in that first minute, then they kind of set­tled, then we got a lit­tle rat­tled. But then they set­tled again and it’s just im­por­tant to play our game and play smart.”

Lib­erty al­most scored again less than two min­utes later when Branin Ward slammed a shot on goal af­ter a cor­ner-play pass, but Lane­hart made the save, and Queen Anne’s bounced back up the field to pro­duce a penalty cor­ner of its own. Lib­erty de­fended the play, though, and that’s the way it went the rest of the half with back-and­forth score­less ac­tion.

“They had a break­away goal. The de­fense just didn’t step to the ball I thought,” Queen Anne’s first-year head coach Shana Corder said. “But it was OK. I mean those goals

hap­pen. I still felt … that we were ap­ply­ing good pres­sure, but we just still couldn’t put it in.”

Queen Anne’s best chance in the first half came with 4:37 re­main­ing when ju­nior mid­fielder Gabrielle Corder drib­bled to­ward the cage and sent the ball to ju­nior for­ward and lead­ing scorer Sara Wal­ford in front of the left post, but her shot sailed wide right.

Corder split a pair of de­fend­ers on a penalty-cor­ner op­por­tu­nity in the fi­nal sec­onds of the first half, but she lost her ad­van­tage when Lib­erty was whis­tled for a vi­o­la­tion.

Cald­well re­ceived two cards in the sec­ond half, leav­ing Lib­erty with­out one of its top of­fen­sive play­ers (18 as­sists on the sea­son) for four min­utes. But its de­fense, led by ju­niors Fal­lon Spit­tel and Erin Risch and fresh­man Chris­tine Goetz, kept Lib­erty from need­ing to score.

“Def­i­nitely dom­i­nated the sec­ond half for sure,” Coach Corder said. “We had plenty of op­por­tu­nity; we just couldn’t put it in. Their goalie was great. Their de­fense was great. They’re a good team.”

De­spite Queen Anne’s con­trol­ling most of the sec­ond half, Lib­erty added an in­surance goal with 12:57 re­main­ing in the game. Af­ter col­lect­ing a pass from Hef­fler, Miller spun and fired in a shot from about six yards out that clanked off the back of the cage.

“We let Queen Anne’s rat­tle us a lit­tle bit; they’re a great team,” Strohmer said. “They have hard hits. They have great play­ers. I felt like when there was a change, like when Abby [Busch] got hit or Ash­ley came out, they got rat­tled, and Queen Anne’s was tak­ing ad­van­tage of that. That’s why I called the time­out and told them it was im­por­tant to get com­posed.”

Fen­ner re­mained com­posed through­out, adding back-to-back saves near the right post in the fi­nal minute.

“They’re a good team,” Coach Corder said. “It stinks to lose, but hey, at the end of the day I’m so proud of the girls. We’ve had such a great sea­son and that’s my mes­sage to them. I know they’re all heart­bro­ken right now, but when that heals and they look back on it they’re go­ing to be very proud of them­selves.”

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @csknauss. email me at ck­nauss@star­dem.com

PHOTO BY CHRIS KNAUSS

Queen Anne’s McKenna Blick takes aim for a drive dur­ing the first half Sat­ur­day morn­ing against Lib­erty in the MPSSAA Class 1A state cham­pi­onship game. Also pic­tured is Lib­erty’s Brooker Hef­fler (11).

PHOTO BY CHRIS KNAUSS

Queen Anne’s Con­ner Allen (16) moves the ball up­field dur­ing the MPSSAA Class 1A state cham­pi­onship game Sat­ur­day morn­ing at Washington Col­lege.

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