For the seniors on Marriotts Ridge's girls lacrosse team, putting their third state title in perspective wasn't all that easy.
Wednesday's 18-5 Class 3A-2A title victory over Oakdale at UMBC sent the No. 4 Mustangs seniors off with the happy ending they wanted, but it was a split decision whether this championship was better than their first.
"Freshman year was the best. Nothing can compare with that feeling," senior defender Alexis Zadjura said of the first girls lacrosse championship in school history. "Still, winning three in our high school career — not many of our friends that we play with can even say that they've won one. It's pretty awesome."
Said senior attacker Marissa Davey: "I think this one has something special because we won our last game, so the last time we'll ever be on the field together, we'll go off with a win."
The Mustangs (17-2), the only public school girls lacrosse team to repeat as champions this season, took control of Wednesday's title game with four goals in the first four minutes and rolled from there. They outshot Oakdale, a first-time finalist, 18-4, and won 11 of 12 draws in the first half.
Davey and Taylor Hensh, who finished with five goals each, combined for seven in the half while Lexi Souder scored three and Carly Miller had two goals and two assists as the Mustangs ran their lead to 12-0 by halftime. The running clock kicked in when Hensh nailed a free position goal with 7:56 left in the first half.
The Bears, in only their third season as a varsity program, briefly broke the Mustangs' momentum when Sara Parnes and Carly Heine scored back-to-back to open the second half. Marriotts Ridge, however, answered with three straight goals to run the lead to 15-2 on Jenna Kerr's free-position goal.
The title completed a playoff run by the Mustangs that started in the toughest section in the state. The South Section I included teams that won a combined 29 state championships. That's 48 percent of all the girls lacrosse titles awarded before this year.
Marriotts Ridge, who lost only to No. 1 McDonogh and to Howard County rival Mount Hebron, which was ranked No. 2 at the time, came back in the sectional semifinal to avenge the loss to the Vikings, 12-11 in overtime. Then they had to rally from four goals down to beat No. 10 Century, 8-7, in the sectional final before defeating River Hill, 13-10, for the regional championship.
"We went into it with the motto that in the playoffs, anything can happen," Mustangs coach Amanda Brady said. "There's upsets and comebacks and knowing that we had a tough section, going into the remaining games we knew we were going to have to bring it, because nobody wants to go home at this point."
Oakdale, only the second Frederick County team to reach the final, had hoped to become the first team from outside the Baltimore metropolitan counties to win a state girls lacrosse title.
Before Wednesday night's final, coach Beth Nave's Bears (16-3) had lost only to No. 8 Manchester Valley, the Class 2A-1A state champion, and to No. 12 Hereford, a 3A-2A state semifinalist.
"We've never played teams of that caliber," Bears sophomore goalie Melissa Semkiw said of the Mustangs. "But we just kept fighting and as a team, we worked together and I saw nothing but players who wanted to win, wanted to be there."
No. 4 Marriotts Ridge 18, Oakdale 5
Goals: O—Bowman 2, Heine 2, Parnes; M—Hensh 5, Davey 5, Souder 3, C.Miller 2, M.Plano, Kerr, Kennedy. Assists: O—Bowman. M—C.Miller 3, Kerr 2, Hensh. Saves: O—Semkiw 4, M—Ortell 5. Half: M, 12-0.