The Kent Island Bay Times - - Sports -

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,

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