It’s hard to play catch-up when you’re tired, and it’s even harder when you’re a player short. Howard’s first appearance in the girls lacrosse state semifinals didn’t go exactly the way the Lions would have hoped.
“I thought my kids played with a good effort, but it definitely wasn’t their best performance,” said Howard coach Alleesha Davidson after her team lost to Sherwood, 17-14, in a Class 4A/3A state semifinal Saturday afternoon at Annapolis High School.
The victory kept Sherwood undefeated (16-0) and placed the Montgomery County team in the state final, where it will face Broadneck.
Howard scored the first two goals of the game. “And I thought that would set the tone for the game,” said Howard’s Abbey Groft.
But Sherwood quickly scored and kept scoring. “Then we had to try to play catch-up,” Groft said.
At halftime, Howard trailed by a pair of goals. The second half was a “shootout,” Davidson said.
Groft and Kristen Woolschlager each had four goals for Howard.
Sherwood, powered by eight goals from Maddie Doan, controlled two important aspects of the game.
“They got almost every draw, which is weird because usually we are really good at getting the draw. And on ground balls they were after every single one and they were good at that,” Groft said.
“When a team controls you in ground balls and draw control, they are going to beat you,” Davidson said.
As the game got close, it got physical. Both teams had prom the night before, which introduced a fatigue factor.
Howard received four yellow cards and ended up playing the last minutes of the game down a player, which only compounded the team’s problems. Howard keeper Lauren Ferraro kept her team within striking distance.
“Lauren played a great game in goal. …Throughout the year she has been a great plus for our defense,” Davidson said. “A lot of their goals at the end were when we were double-teaming (on defense) and trying to get something going.”
Being in the state semifinals was a historic moment for Howard. It was the girls lacrosse team’s first appearance.
But reaching the state’s final four wasn't as celebratory as it might have been.
“I don’t care about the losing part. Eventually you lose unless you win it all,” Davidson said. “I was proud of their effort but disappointed in their performance. It was more about our defensive performance. Usually we play very good defense."
In addition to its first tournament appearance, Howard set a school record for victories in a season. The Lions finished 12-6.
Sherwood 17, Howard 14
Goals: S – Maddie Doan 8, Emily Kenul 3, Kristen Lauda 2, Natalie Zebeck 2, Taylor Polhemus, Quinn Pettenati. Ho – Kristen Woolschlager 4, Abbey Groft 4, Kelly Aquino 2, Maddie Regal 2, Kelsey Savje, Kati Maggio.
Assists: S – Emily Kenul 2, Maddie Doan, Kristen Lauda. Ho – Charlotte Wilkinson 4, Maddie Regal.