There are numerous superlatives that could describe Marriotts Ridge’s 15-5 victory over Century in the Class 3A/2A state championship game Tuesday night at UMBC.
Relentless seems to tell it all.
The Mustangs dominated Century in all phases of a girls lacrosse game – they were faster, more agile, controlled the draw, got the ground balls, ran plays to perfection, scored nearly at will and played college-level defense.
“I don’t think Century’s ever had the clock running on them before,” Knights coach Becky Groves said.
In girls lacrosse, the clock continues to run when one team has a 10-goal lead.
Marriotts Ridge was up, 12-2, with 17 minutes left in the game.
“I never imagined (a running clock) in a million years,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Natalie Gaieski.
The Mustangs’ defense — keeper Rachel Ortell (10 saves), Alex McKay, Brooke Sharbaugh, Amanda Miller, Katie Berdy, Alexis Zadjura, Zoe Stukenberg and Taylor Hensh — held a team that normally puts up over 15 goals a game to a season-low five goals.
As the saying goes: Offense wins games but defense wins championships.
“You can’t count on playoff attack,” Stukenberg said. “What we’ve been able to count on is defense.”
Two years ago, when Marriotts Ridge won its first state title, the Mustangs held Century to four goals.
In the past four years, Century has won two state titles and been state finalists twice.
“We had a bad offensive night,” said Century’s Haley Bordner. “We just looked so scared. From the beginning we were not finishing shots. Mentally, we weren’t there on offense.”
Marriotts Ridge’s defense had a lot to do with Century’s woes.
The Mustangs refused to give up on uncontested shot. They packed in along the 8-meter mark and pressured relentlessly
Ortell said the defense got tighter and tighter as the season progressed.
“This group of defenders is the strongest and most cohesive unit I’ve ever played with,” McKay said. “It’s almost like you know what people are going to do.”
At the other end of the field, the Mustangs’ offense was very productive.
With five goals, Maggie Brooks did most of the scoring damage. Stukenberg and Hensh each added three goals.
Century tried to double-team Stukenberg, but the effort allowed her to tally six assists as she nimbly found an open teammate with pin-point passes.