Manchester Valley's girls lacrosse team couldn't have believed bigger.
The No. 8 Mavericks relied on their season motto, "Believe Big," to build a six-goal lead in the first half and hold off a late rally from No. 15 Fallston to win their first state championship, the Class 2A-1A title, 13-10, Tuesday night at UMBC.
The last two seasons have been emotional for the Mavericks (18-1) after losing assistant coach Devin Spence in an automobile accident in February 2013 and after coach Shelly Brezicki lost her brother, volunteer fireman Gene Kirchner, three months later from injuries suffered in a fire.
"Last year's season with everything that happened, it put kind of a damper on everything," Mavericks' senior Haile Houck said. "We all tried to play through it, but everyone was really emotional and this year, we wanted to come out and do our best and do it for Spence and Gene and that's what we did. We believed big for them."
The Mavericks, who won their first Carroll County championship this spring, got off to a quick start when Allie Little scored 21 seconds into the game — a significant number for the Mavericks because Spence wore No. 21 when he played high school lacrosse.
Although the Cougars matched the Mavericks' first two goals, Lizzie Colson broke the tie with the first of her four goals to start a five-goal run capped by Rayna Deltuva's free-position goal with 7:20 left in the first half.
By the half, the Mavericks led 10-5, but Fallston's Kayla Reilly stole a little momentum with an extra-man goal 32 seconds before the break. The Cougars (14-4) were able to carry that momentum into the second half. Maddie Hurlburt fed Logan Gasoir to open the second half and cut the lead to four.
Later in the half, the Cougars, helped by five straight draw controls, got back-to-back goals from Issabelle Dallam and Caroline English to pull within 12-9 with 7:45 to go.
At that point, the Mavericks defense, lead by Sarah Cullison, Sami Chenoweth, Laurel George, Morgan Hoff, clamped down and held Fallston scoreless until the final 18 seconds of the game.
Manchester Valley freshman goalie Kate Brewster, who splits time with sophomore Lydia Eichhorst, made a terrific save with 1:15 left to keep Fallston from gaining any momentum in the final seconds.
"They had a couple players make big plays," Fallston coach Mike McTeague said, "especially in the first half where we seemed like we were just hanging on, but they're an excellent team. Their goalie made a huge save. It was 12-9 and we had one (shot) to make it 12-10 and get a little momentum going on the draw and that was a huge save for their goalie."
In addition to the four goals scored by Lizzie Colson, Little and Deltuva each scored three for the Mavericks. For the Cougars, who won the last of their two state titles in 2012, Gasior scored three goals while Reilly, English and Dallam added two each.
8 Manchester Valley 13, 15 Fallston 10
Goals: M—L.Colson 4, Little 3, Deltuva 3, Walter, S.Colson, Carhart; F—Gasior 3, K.Reilly 2, Dallam 2, English 2, Hurlburt. Assists: M—Little 2, Deltuva; F—M.Hurlburt, English, M.Reilley. Saves: M—Eichhorst 3; Brewster 2; F—Wright 5. Half: M, 10-5.