Lions roar way to state ti­tle game

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS -

The best way to calm one’s nerves, at least for Lib­erty’s field hockey team, seems to be to ap­ply pres­sure from the open­ing whis­tle un­til the fi­nal horn sounds. Even when the Lions’ first solid scor­ing chance gets washed away.

That’s how Thurs­day night’s Class 1A state semi­fi­nal played out be­tween the Lions and Patux­ent, as a light but steady rain fell at Paint Branch High School.

Speed and agility car­ried the Lions to a 5-0 vic­tory, ad­vanc­ing them to the 1A fi­nal Satur­day night at Wash­ing­ton Col­lege.

Ju­nior for­ward Kayleigh Ward tal­lied three goals, se­nior mid­fielder Meghan Huey had two as­sists, and Lib­erty im­proved to17-0 while notch­ing its 12th shutout of the year.

It looked like Ward gave the Lions an early lead when she knocked a ball into the cage 46 sec­onds into play af­ter Huey sent a pass into the cir­cle. Of­fi­cials waved off the goal on a penalty, how­ever, and things re­mained score­less.

For a few more min­utes, at least.

“Our key points are give-and-gos, and quick pass­ing, and I think that do­ing that from the start of the game … we knew, ‘There’s no way to win this un­less we score,’” Ward said. “Af­ter know­ing that our first goal didn’t count we just had to keep build­ing up from that.”

Ward and Huey said the ref­er­ees’ rul­ing fired them up, so much that they made their se­cond at­tempt count with a near iden­ti­cal set-up.

Lib­erty’s ag­gres­sion fi­nally paid off 10 min­utes into the half, and Ward con­verted in front of the cage af­ter Huey de­liv­ered a long as­sist from the far side. Huey slammed her stick into the turf in cel­e­bra­tion while Ward re­ceived con­grat­u­la­tions from her clos­est team­mates.

“I get ex­cited, and that’s my way of [show­ing it],” Huey said.

Ward scored a pair of se­cond-half goals, and the Lions got one apiece from fresh­man Jenna Evans and se­nior Ri­ley Par­doe. The five-goal lead gave Lib­erty the lux­ury of a run­ning clock, and coach Brenda Strohmer was able to sub­sti­tute lib­er­ally the rest of the way.

Lib­erty lost one of its key con­trib­u­tors about seven min­utes into the game when se­nior for­ward Caro­line Evans went down af­ter the ball car­omed off a stick and struck her in the head. She stayed on the ground for a few mo­ments be­fore leav­ing the field un­der her own power, and ath­letic train­ers ran her through a few tests on the side­line.

Evans didn’t re­turn to ac­tion, but her de­par­ture didn’t seem to slow down the Lions.

“We came into this ex­pect­ing the worst, ex­pect­ing pour­ing down rain and freez­ing cold, and we just knew what we had to do,” Huey said. “That [dis­al­lowed] goal was every­thing we’ve worked on … that just gave us that boost to be like, ‘Hey, we can do this. Let’s just do it again.’”

Lib­erty ad­vances to take on Wash­ing­ton High School on Satur­day night at 6:30 in Ch­ester­town on the East­ern Shore. The Jaguars downed North East-Ce­cil 2-0 in the other 1A semi­fi­nal.

Mar­riotts Ridge 2, No. 6 Here­ford 1, OT: Emma Glad­stein scored for Mar­riotts Ridge to start the sud­den-death shootout, and Grace Tolle stopped the Bulls at­tacker to give Mar­riotts Ridge the 2-1 vic­tory in the Class 2A semi­fi­nals and send the Mus­tangs to the state ti­tle game.

The last time Mar­riotts Ridge made the state cham­pi­onship game was 2015, when the Mus­tangs lost to Here­ford. They’ll take on Oak­dale.

Mar­riotts Ridge (11-3-1) drew first blood 10 min­utes into the se­cond half when Kayla Br­usco de­flected a re­verse chip by Glad­stein into the cage to give the Mus­tangs a 1-0 lead.

Here­ford (12-3) an­swered back with 8:39 re­main­ing on a goal from ju­nior Molly Daw. The equal­izer sent the game to over­time.

BRIAN KRISTA/CAR­ROLL COUNTY TIMES

Lib­erty play­ers join their team­mates in cel­e­bra­tion of their 5-0 win over Patux­ent dur­ing a 1A state semi­fi­nal field hockey game at Paint Branch High School on Thurs­day.

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