For the second year in a row, Sherwood stopped Howard’s playoff run. Last year, it was in the state semifinal game.
Thursday evening, it was in the Class 4A/3A North Region championship game.
Howard, a 2013 regional champion, tied the game, 18-all, with 36 seconds left to play on Catherine Sims conversion of a pass by Kelsey Savje.
Sherwood, last year’s state finalist, got the next draw and 13 seconds later Ella Booz scored with an assist from Emily Kenul.
Kenul came up with the next draw and Sherwood ran the final seconds off the clock to preserve a 19-18 victory.
“We don’t get to face the tough opponents that Howard faces through the season so this was a big test for us,” said Sherwood coach Kelly Hughes.
The Warriors came into the game with a 12-1 record; most of the victories were very lopsided.
“We played Howard last year and we knew this was a game on our talent level,” Hughes added.
Thursday’s game was close throughout and had just a one-goal differential at the half.
“We came out and made them have a close game,” said Howard’s Ella Orzechowski. “I wish we could have pulled through but we gave it a lot and we shouldn’t be too down because we played our hearts out.”
Howard trailed, 18-16, with 4 minutes remaining to play. The Lions tied the score on goals by Savje and Sims.
“Howard was getting goals with (defensive) pressure on them. (The tying goal) was a good shot,” Hughes said.
With less than half a minute to play, and the score tied, Hughes knew she wanted the ball in Kenul’s stick.
“I said get the ball to Emily. I knew that she would bust through and if she needed to find an open player, she would. Ella (Booz) was there,” Hughes said. “After we got that score we just needed to get the ball back.”
Kenul, who will play for Johns Hopkins next year, came up with the next draw.
“I feel it was like whoever got the ball on the draw scored,” said Howard coach Alleesha Davidson.
Kenul had six goals, a number matched by Howard freshman Jenny Kinsey.
Howard has been a work in progress all season. The Lions opened the season with a 2-5 record. The turning point to what could have been a dreadful season came during the annual Karl Wolf tournament.
“It seems like we always get off to a slow start and then we hit the Karl Wolf tournament. No matter when it is, it becomes this drive. This day of unity, it’s a great day, a great tournament and it brings us all together,” said Howard coach Alleesha Davidson.
“I think we just really came together and stopped playing selfish and started playing as a team,” said senior Maddie Regal. “Today was our best day by far.”
“We’ve built. Each game we’ve gotten better and better,” Davidson said. “We are a pretty young team, you know, and they are learning the program. I just feel like this (game) was a huge building block for next year. … You couldn’t ask for a better team effort.”
Howard finished its season with a 9-9 record.
Sherwood 19, Howard 18
Goals: S — Emily Kenul 6, Kristin Lauda 3, Mikaila Block 3, Ella Booz 2, Natalie Sebeck 2, Connor Graney 2, Delaney McMenamin. Ho — Jenny Kinsey 6, Kelsey Savje 4, Ella Orzechowski 2, Maddie Regal 2, Katie Schluederberg 2, Abbey Groft, Catherine Sims.
Assists: S — Emily Kenul 5, Natalie Sebek 2, Kristin Lauda, Delaney McMenamin. Ho — Abbey Groft 3, Katie Schluederberg 2, Kelsey Savje.
Saves: S — Laura Knipe 2. Ho — Sam Sagi 3.
Halftime: Sherwood, 11-10.