senior Gabby Beach, who scored the final two to lock down the program’s first division crown.
In the rematch opposite the Warriors in the section final, the Bucs squeaking by, 10-9, junior Morgan Gunn broke free on a chaotic reset for the eventual game-winner, completing a hat trick. The victory was preserved when senior goalkeeper Kyleigh Hessian stoned a McDaniel free-position with less 90 seconds left to play, one of 10 saves on the day for Hessian.
Against Fallston, with the state appearance on the line, the Blandford-Creighton combination sealed it. Blandford — all season long one of the top defensive midfielders in the area and seemingly unflappable under pressure — knocked a ball loose on a stick check during the sudden-death OT. Creighton, her foot mostly healed, channeled her renewed speed and footwork by depositing it at the other end after a deep venture into Cougar territory. T.E.A.M., indeed. “It was a really cool year for us,” Creighton said. “We really learned to play as a team, and play off each other’s strengths, and it really helped us win all these titles this year.
“I think adrenaline kind of pushed everyone,” Creighton added.
Though Kent Island was bounced by now three-time reigning 2A state champion Glenelg in the semifinals, Blandford bookended her four-year varsity career with two goals, one in each half, a rare bright spot in an otherwise humbling defeat to a program overflowing with Division I hopefuls.
Creighton often had two defenders draped on her even when the ball wasn’t coming her way, a sound tactic by the Gladiators, and affirmation of her diverse skills on the offensive end.
The spotlight of the state playoffs also appeared a bit intense for a number of the Kent Island players, but there is a first time for just about everything. A moment that was unnerving at the onset, ended up rather cathartic, perhaps even a bit revelatory.
“When I realized we were going to states, I was just so thrilled we were able to be there,” Blandford said. “When we walked into the locker room, I was just in so much awe, and trying to remember that moment forever, it was an amazing feeling to be there. I was the most determined I had ever been, but I also at peace with, ‘This is where we are, just enjoy the moment, and play the best that you can’.
The realization of the hardships that must be endured to attain this level of excellence is unlikely a fleeting moment. Maybe this is simply another first: the first step toward even greater things for the Kent Island High girls’ lacrosse program.
“I told the girls, look around the room here, you are never going to play with these girls again, this is the last time that this team is ever going to play together, so let’s have one more game,” Holtzner said of his speech during halftime of the state semifinals. “We told the team, we are ecstatic about this season, but what we are more ecstatic about is that this team has set the bar very high for Kent Island. We expect to win. We expect this team next year to win. They know that they can do it now.”
“I don’t think it’s a one-anddone thing,” Blandford added. “I think now that we set the standard for the younger girls, they have something to hold themselves accountable to. There is so much talent coming through Kent Island High School, they have the chance to make it again.”
Added Creighton: “Honestly, I think we really stepped it up in practice this year. We really focused on mind over matter, and I think this year, we knew we could do it. We practiced really hard, and I hope we incorporate that next year.”
Here is a look at this year’s All-Mid-Shore girls’ lacrosse teams:
* * * First Team
Midfield Bella Rulapaugh Fr., Queen Anne’s Rulapaugh burst onto the scene with a huge campaign, leading the re-tooling Lions with 51 goals, while adding a Mid-Shore high 35 assists, her 86 points an area best. Rulapaugh, who also plays for Mar yland United, scooped 22 groundballs, and should be in the running for Player of the Year honors next season. Lexi McDaniel
Sr., Easton A finalist for Player of the Year, McDaniel was the catalyst for the resurgent Warriors, who battled Kent Island in a classic finish in the 2A East Section II final. McDaniel, Ellie Roser Sr., Easton Player of the Year finalist Roser, a three-year team captain for the Warriors and an U.S. Lacrosse All-American, capped a spectacular career in the orange and black with 50 goals, 26 assists and 73 draw controls. It included a seven-goal eruption against Parkside and four goals against Saints Peter and Paul in the annual Talbot Lacrosse Association Bull Roast, a 19-9 Easton victor y.
A player known for possessing arguably the best stick work in the Bayside Conference and the ability to seamlessly shift to attack, Roser also took the field for M&D Black Lacrosse, and will be playing in college for burgeoning women’s lacrosse hotbed Furman (S.C.) University. Caroline Murphy
Sr., Saints Peter and Paul A four-year varsity starter, Murphy was named co-Player of the Year in the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference in 2018 after a sensational, 63-goal, 10-assist, 72-draw control, 60-groundball campaign, her goals output a Mid-Shore high by a dozen tallies.
The Stevenson Universitybound Murphy also added 15 caused turnovers as a stout,