Chestertown - The Fallston Cougars won their 14th state field hockey title Saturday, beating Crisfield, 2-0, for the Maryland Class 1A crown at Washington College's Kibler Field at Roy Kirby Jr. Stadium.
Fallston scored both goals in the second half off the stick of junior forward Jenna Caldwell, a first-year varsity player, successfully defending a 1A title won in 2011.
"The first half was a little bit scary, but we told the girls at the second half, you know, you just need to play the way you know how to play, make the connections, do what you know how to do," Head Coach Maddie Palko said. "It feel's good right now, it's unbelievable. We knew we had the best group of girls and if anyone was capable of getting back-to-back state championships, it's them."
For much of the first half, Saturday's game looked much like the Cougars semifinal overtime win over Manchester Valley.
Fallston spent considerable time in the Crisfield end of the field and earned seven corners. Like the semifinal, nothing came out of them.
Crisfield, making its first state tourney appearance, was able to apply some pressure, specifically about 11 minutes in off a steal by Rachael Evans that led to a free hit, but the Cougars defense stepped up. Fallston's Coach Palko called a timeout a short time later.
Crisfield got its first corner with 12:00 left and received a good look, but Cougars' goalie Sarah DiMaggio stood strong with one her five saves.
Despite a 7-2 corner advantage in the first half, Fallston failed to capitalize. The Cougars got off a few good shots, but the Crabbers defense and goalie Naomi Barnes (seven saves) turned each shot away, keeping the game scoreless at the half.
It didn't take Fallston long, however, to break the ice after halftime, scoring less than two minutes into the second half. Caldwell took advantage of a scoring opportunity and finished it with a goal at the 28:07 mark. Danielle McDiarmid assisted the goal.
"That first goal right timing," Caldwell said. "It was just a cross from Dani and I just touched it barely and it kind of just rolled right on past the goalie. I didn't really know that it went in until everybody started screaming."
Caldwell struck again at the 16:59 mark, drilling a shot from just inside the circle. Seconds before the powerful shot, the ball glanced off the foot of the referee. Caldwell alertly continued play, putting the low, hard shot into the back of the goal. A brief conference ensued because of the referee touch, but the goal was verified as good.
"I was surprised that they still made it a goal after it hit the ref's foot, but once again, just perfect timing," Caldwell said.
A bit later, Crisfield's Evans made another run into the circle, but the ball was cleared out to McDiarmid, who went the length of the field to earn a corner. The corner led to one of several hard shots by Lindsay Summers, but like the others, it never made it to the goal.
"We had known that the other team was good at stopping those kind of shots and we had to adjust to that," Summers said. "They had tremendous speed, definitely exhausted us. Good stick skills, which I think we were shocked with, we didn't expect that."
Crisfield did have a late flurry in front of the Fallston goal, but the defense and goalie DiMaggio denied the shots.
"We were able to stop the ball a lot," center back Jennifer Delvecchio said. "We kept our intensity in the circle. They had great intensity too, which kind of battled ours. That made us a little nervous in the circle, but we were able to keep it up."
Fallston ended its season at 13-7; Crisfield finished at 16-2.