Draw possession and their own patient offense proved equally effective as No. 8 Severna Park held No. 11 Catonsville to its lowest offensive output of the season en route to a 15-10 victory at Franklin in the Class 4A-3A state semifinals.
The defending champion Falcons (17-2) advance to the state final for the 13th time and will go after their 11th title Tuesday or Wednesday night at UMBC against the winner of Saturday's semifinal between Westminster and Churchill. The Falcons defeated Westminster, 14-7, in last year's championship.
Catonsville (17-2) went into Friday's game averaging 16.9 points and had been held below 15 only three times. The Falcons played exceptional defense, holding the Comets' top two scorers, Deb Milani and Rachel Schwaab to five goals. Those two combined for 10 goals in the Baltimore County championship.
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The Comets (17-2) scored four times in the first 10 minutes, thanks in part to winning three of the first four draws, but the Falcons finished with a 14-12 advantage on the draw. That doesn't sound like much, except that Milani won 18 of 26 draws in the Comets' regional final.
After Catonsville took a 4-2 lead, the Falcons' patience created openings for 9-1 run that included four Morgan Torggler goals and gave Severna Park an 11-5 lead on Ally Adams' goal four minutes into the second half.
The Comets rallied with three straight goals, but after Falcons goalie Rachel Vander Kolk saved a free-position shot, the tide turned for good. Ryan Bathras fed Kelsey Kirk for a quick transition goal and a 12-8 lead.
"We knew that we had to deny them the ball, because obviously they wouldn't have the chances that they want to go to goal," said Severna Park defender Jenny Skrenta, who held Schwaab to one goal. "We marked up on their top three or four players and at first, we were a little unsuccessful at it, because we didn't have our slides there, so we adjusted a little bit and went into a sag defense and it really worked."
Queen Anne's 6, Mount Hebron 5: Seemingly poised for its first trip to the state finals since 2009, the Mount Hebron girls lacrosse team had its momentum disappear in the final 20 minutes Friday at Annapolis High. And with it, so did the Howard County team's chances for a state title.
Leading, 5-1, the Vikings allowed the game's final five goals over a span of 18:39, including Abby O'Donnell's game-winner with 2:05 left.
Queen Anne's (16-1-1) advances to face No. 3 Century in the Class 3A-2A state finals, to be held either Tuesday or Wednesday night at UMBC. It will mark the Lions' first trip to the finals after losing in the semifinals four of the past five years.
Mount Hebron (15-3) had dominated play in the first half by winning draw controls and using its methodical offense to maintain possession for large swaths of time. But after going up 5-1 on Samantha Brookhart's solo effort with 20:30 left, the Vikings began losing draws and slowly let the Eastern Shore team back in the game.
"We didn't take the game when we could've," Mount Hebron coach Trish Derwart-Sullivan said. "The draw controls — that was the biggest difference. And I also think we were forcing it too much in the second half."
The Lions pulled even by scoring on three straight free positions, including two by senior Jess Crew (three goals). Then, with 2:05 left, midfielder Abby O'Donnell made a quick cut inside, faked and scored the go-ahead goal.
Mount Hebron then failed to score on a pair of free positions in the final 1:01.
"The only way for us to win was to get the draw," said Queen Anne's midfielder Bre Hamm, adding that the team's first goal of the second half put them back in the game, emotionally. "Once we got that goal, out momentum went up 100 percent."
No. 3 Century 10, No. 14 C. Milton Wright 8: After beating C. Milton Wright earlier this season, Century knew it was in for a battle in Friday's rematch in the 3A-2A semifinals.
But the Knights nearly got more than they could handle, going down to the wire before senior Angela Flister scored with 1:36 left to break the tieat Annapolis High.
Century (17-1), which is pursuing its sixth state title since 2004, fell behind 4-0 in the first 10:19 before coming to life. Haley Bordner scored four goals and Shelby Mercer and Flister added three each.
"We really didn't come out that strong," Flister said. "We hadn't played a team that strong since the beginning of the season. We had to wake up get back those four goals."