After graduating 11 seniors and nine starters, Mt. Hebron accepted the challenge of a rebuilding year.
“We’re excited, but we have a lot of work to do. It’s kind of weird to hit the reset button this year,” said Mt. Hebron coach Trish Derwart in a preseason interview.
Friday afternoon, the Vikings exceeded preseason expectations, going undefeated in Howard County play by beating Centennial, 16-9.
It is the Mt. Hebron’s ninth county title in 13 years and 23rd in program history. Girls lacrosse has been a Howard County sport for 27 years.
With a young team, the Vikings returned to their championship form by getting back to the basics.
“We had a lot of early morning practices of repetitive going over catching and passing and this is the right way to cut and this is the right way to play defense. In all honestly, we had to go back to the basics. We had to start from scratch,” said senior Lauren Schaaf. “
That’s often what needs to be done with a young team. Mt. Hebron has six seniors but some had to take on more significant roles this season.
In previous years, Mt. Hebron modeled itself after its predecessors.
“We would say, we need to be like them and do what they did, but this year we wanted to reinvent ourselves and be our own team. We wanted to be the team that other people look back at,” Schaaf said.
“It was definitely one of our goals to get back that title of county champion and we are so incredibly proud and fortunate that we were able to do that,” she added.
The final score doesn’t indicate how the game started. Centennial held its own and had a 4-3 lead before Mt. Hebron scored three times in the final 1:18 of the first half to go up, 6-4, at the break.
“It was a big game for our goalie (Maddie Albornoz, 10 saves),” said Centennial coach Rachel Burton. “Hebron ultimately dominated in draw control, which eventually played its toll on us.”
The Vikings had a 10-6 draw control advantage. When Centennial got the draw, and kept possession, it could score.
Centennial’s Alicia Hsieh, a senior, said her team played one of its best games against Mt. Hebron since she has been on the team.
“We never gave up, the halftime sore was really close,” she said. “We always came back after being down.
The teams exchanged single goals to open the second half and then Mt. Hebron scored six unanswered goals to take a 14-6 lead, which basically sealed the outcome.
“I was really proud of how my girls played,” Burton said. “I think they came out wanting to give Mt. Hebron a fight and I think we did. I think we scared them there a little bit.
“I’m not disappointed at all. I was happy with the outcome.”
Mt. Hebron 16, Centennial 9
Goals: MH — Jen Giles 5, Chachi Kelehan 3, Jordan Stevens 3, Amanda Steinmuller 2, Cammy Case, Ally Unkenholz, Lauren Schaaf. C — Dani Wilson 4, Alicia Hsieh 3, Kay Kelly 2.