The wind blew cold across McDaniel College's Kenneth R. Gill Stadium and off-and-on rain pelted the two field hockey teams playing in the Class 2A North regional final Thursday.
While the weather made those on the sidelines shiver and wrap themselves in blankets, No. 10 Century and Winters Mill pushed each other toward elimination.
With just 1:22 left in the game, Kailey Wolfe, Century's leading scorer, found a rare opening and pushed the ball into the back of Winters Mill's net for a 2-1 victory.
The win sends the Knights (13-2-2) to the state semifinals at Franklin on Nov. 5 against the 2A West region champion (either Poolesville or Damascus). Meanwhile, Winters Mill finishes their season with a 9-5 record.
"This feels phenomenal," Wolfe, a senior forward, said. "It was a really hard-fought game. Winters Mill is a fantastic team and we are so happy to pull it out."
Century got the game's first goal from Shelby Mercer with 9:08 to play in the first half and held on to the 1-0 lead until 5 1/2 minutes into the second half.
It was then that relentless pressure from the Winters Mill attack paid off with a goal by Sydney Trentzsch from right in front of the net. It would be the only goal allowed by Century goalie Steffie Pfisterer (four saves), despite the fact the Falcons spent most of the second half pressing the Knights' goal.
"Our team came out here and played its heart out," said Winters Mill coach Laurie Naill, who was an assistant coach at Century last season. "This team has improved from Day 1. You can't ask for more."
Trentzsch, also a senior, praised her team's performance in the loss.
"I think we dominated them, but they put the ball away," she said. "On their last goal, we weren't really set up defensively, but overall, we played really well."
On the last goal, Century right wing Mandi Trostle got out on a fast break that caught Winters Mill out of position, as Trentzsch said, and left goalie Megan Porter (nine saves) in a difficult spot. As the ball bounced around, the Knights' Sydney Hawes found Wolfe for the winning shot.
"Mandi is fast and Kailey is super fast," Century coach Terry Duryea said. "It doesn't take any time to get a shot set up. It was the deciding moment. The playoffs are so different from other games. It's so emotional because everyone knows it could be their last game."
10 Century 2, Winters Mill 1
Goals: C - Mercer, Wolfe. WM - Sydney Trentzsch. Assists: C – Donoghue, Hawes. Saves: C - Pfisterer (4); WM - Porter (9). Halftime - Century, 1-0.