Patuxent field hockey advances to state final
Panthers beat Crisfield, earn another shot at state championship
BURTONSVILLE — When time ran out on the first half in Wednesday night’s Class 1A state field hockey semifinal at Paint Branch High School, Patuxent could have felt mildly content with a 3-1 lead. But then, the Panthers knew better.
Two seasons ago, Patuxent faced a two-goal deficit at the half of its state semifinal and rallied for the win. So up a pair on the Crisfield Crabbers on Wednesday, the Panthers took the field for the game’s final 30 minutes knowing they hadn’t yet earned a thing.
“Two years ago in this same place we were down two goals and ended up winning,” Patuxent head coach Lynn Powell said. “So that was definitely the speech that was given. Don’t allow that to happen to us.”
It didn’t. Patuxent outscored its Somerset County opponent again in the second half to nail down a 5-2 victory and earn a place in the 1A championship game for the second time in three years. The Panthers will play Francis Scott Key of Carroll County at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Washington College in
Two years ago, Patuxent (16-0 overall) was a young team, driven primarily by freshmen and sophomores, when it reached the state final. Now that group is a mature, experienced squad with seven seniors that has won three straight regional championships and knows exactly what its in for.
“These girls just play as a team,” Powell said. “They fight for each other all the time. It’s really refreshing to see how positive they constantly are with each other. Cheering each other on, motivating each other, on the field, off the field, everywhere. I’m proud of them. It was a close 5-2 game. We pretty much never could be on our heels because we knew they would score if we were.”
The Panthers never allowed Crisfield (8-8) to settle in, taking an early 1-0 lead on Kenna Tejchman’s goal off a penalty corner just 2 minutes 18 seconds in. Later in the half, Kendra Scruggs scored twice within a 1:31 span, with both goals assisted by Tejchman, to increase Patuxent’s lead to 3-0 with 7:52 left in the opening half. But the Crabbers found their way
onto the scoreboard on Lainie Pruitt’s goal with 2:42 left in the half.
“We always just try to keep going,” Patuxent’s Olivia O’Dell said. “Yes, they scored, but we couldn’t let that stop us. We couldn’t let that discourage us. My freshman year when we were here we were down 2-0 at the half and came back 4-2. Anyone can come back from anything. You just have to believe.”
Riley Flanary chipped in a goal for the Panthers to push the lead to 4-1 with 18:40 let to play, but Crisfield struck back on Madi McDorman’s goal less than a minute later. But there were to be no rallies for the Crabbers, as less than two minutes after McDorman’s tally a hard Mack Dinopoulos shot deflected off a Crisfield stick and into the goal to again increase Patuxent’s edge to three at 5-2.
The Panthers’ strong start was vital for them to earn another shot at a state championship, according to Flanary.
“I think we really came out with the intensity that we needed,” she said. “The whole week we’ve been talking about how we needed to come out strong.”
Even though the final margin looked comfortable enough at three goals, Powell never felt like her team had the luxury of letting off the gas.
“Our defense played really well,” Patuxent’s coach said. “Olivia O’Dell in the center of the field and Gini Joy definitely recovered and stopped a lot of fast breaks, because [Crisfield’s Anabelle Mrohs and Pruitt] had stick skills for days. All we could do is just slow them down as much as we could. Offensively, we just
did what we had to do, which was good. ... I’m happy. I’m happy that this is the group doing it. After knocking on the door three times it’s nice to have one more shot before my seniors graduate. Win or lose, they get another chance and that’s a good thing.”
Patuxent has finished as a state runner-up twice in program history. Having another shot to bring a state championship trophy home is an opportunity the Panthers cherish.
“Since my freshman year I’ve been playing with my cousin, Kenna Tejchman, and since my freshman year to her senior year we’ve played together,” O’Dell said. “It really means a lot to me and I think our talking and our strength as a family has really helped us through this whole season.”
“It means so much, especially to the seven seniors,” Flanary added. “It’s unreal to be able to go back to the state championship. I went my sophomore year and we lost. Having another chance at it as a senior means the world and I’m glad we can all do it together one last time.”
Patuxent’s field hockey team celebrates after defeating Crisfield 5-2 in the Class 1A state semifinals at Paint Branch High School on Wednesday night. The Panthers advanced to play in Saturday afternoon’s state final at Washington College.
Patuxent’s Kate Ryon, left, sends a pass to Savannah Gearhart during the early stages of the Panthers’ 5-2 win over Crisfield in the Class 1A state semifinals at Paint Branch High School on Wednesday night.