As Garrison Forest fans waved posters and made sure to sit in the same bleacher seats at Goucher College they've sat in for the past two championship seasons, the No. 1 Grizzlies field hockey team took care of business on the field.
Garrison Forest withstood a ferocious attack by No. 2-seeded Bryn Mawr and then pushed in goals by Bayly Jarrett and Erica Marshall to beat the Mawrtians, 2-0, and win the Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship for the fifth time in six years.
"This is incredible," Garrison senior goalie Kendall Kuntz said after recording her 16th shutout. "It shows how hard we've worked. Most of us have been together for three years and we've just kept working to improve and get better every year. This game was so tight. They were pressuring us non-stop. But when we got that first goal, then we were able to apply more pressure on them."
The game opened with Bryn Mawr challenging every pass and every ball. From the 27-minute mark to 21:15 of the first period, Garrison (21-0) did not cross midfield and had yet to reach the Mawrtians' defensive zone.
And when they finally did, Bryn Mawr goalie Clair Edelman (seven saves), stopped them with an aggressive attack. But at the 11:20 mark, Garrison co-head coaches Traci Davis and Leigh McDonald Hall called a timeout to settle their team and change their attack, opening it more for the long ball by sending several of its forwards down field.
With 6:14 to play in that first 30-minute segment, senior Geagy Pritchard found Jarrett at the far post for the Grizzlies' first goal.
"That goal kept us going," said Marshall, who scored the team's second goal with 10 minutes left in the game. "My goal energized us again, but I wasn't sure the game was over. Bryn Mawr is a strong team. They could have come back."
Certainly, the Mawrtians tried. But Garrison's defense, led by Kuntz and Garland Mooney, kept Bryn Mawr from the scoreboard.
"I can't say there was much difference between our two teams today," Bryn Mawr senior Molly Danko said. "We're two strong teams. Today's game didn't end the way we wanted it to, but to get here was amazing. I'm so proud of us."
Bryn Mawr coach Jeanette Budzik said her team (18-5) exhibited "a lot of heart, skill and stick work" and noted the only difference was Garrison finished two chances, while Bryn Mawr didn't.
"Garrison's defense was really intense today," she said. "What Garrison has done this season is very impressive. The sport allows for a lot of different things to happen and for them to [go undefeated with no ties] is amazing."
Davis and McDonald Hall attributed their team's season-long success to its attitude.
"They're the most relaxed group of girls I've ever had," Davis said. "They dance on the field, have fun and they're very talented in hockey."
Seton Keough sophomore Emily Lemanski scored the only goal with just over six minutes remaining to give the Gators a 1-0 victory over defending champion Mount de Sales in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference championship game.
It's the first IAAM title for the Gators (18-3-2, 13-0 conference) and their first field hockey title since 1994, before the IAAM was founded.
Defending champion Mount de Sales (15-4 overall, 10-2 conference) was in the championship game for the second straight year.
"It's surreal," said Seton Keough coach Tom Jester, whose Gators defeated the Sailors 4-0 during the regular season. "I knew they were a good team and I knew this was going to be a close game. This game could have gone either way."
It appeared headed for overtime until Lemanski rebounded her own shot with a reverse sweep shot into the cage.
"It was unbelievable," Jester said. "She is an awesome player."
"I just took a shot and it came right back to me. I just had to go again," Lemanski said.
One goal was enough in a game dominated by great defensive stops and excellent goalie play from Seton Keough's Becca Wallace and Mount de Sales' Eve Lukowksi.
Seton Keough's defense was anchored by Emani Byrd, Hannah Tavik and Kathleen Sigwart.
"Our defense is amazing," Lemanski said. "You can always trust they will be there for us."
That defense had close calls in each half.
With 14:18 left in the first half, Sailor forward Julianna Shearer had a breakaway, but her hard shot leaked wide.
Lacy Cole had a shot on goal that was saved by Wallace with 10:15 remaining in the second half.
The Sailors' back line features Lauren Hiltz, Lauren Guzman and Laura Gretz, but the Gators had solid scoring chances in both halves thanks to pressure from Alisha Locklear, Katie Audino, Ciara Saunders and Christine Tomasic.
"Our defense was outstanding," Mount de Sales coach Mary Gentner said. "It was anybody's ballgame and the ball just didn't bounce our way."
Until last year, St. Timothy's hadn't won a C Conference championship since 2004. Now it has two in a row.
St. Tim's got two goals from senior Olivia Weese to earn a 2-1 victory over Catholic High in the IAAM C Conference title game.
"This wasn't an easy game," said Weese, who scored twice in a game for the first time in her career. "We'd lost to them, but we knew there wasn't that much difference between us. We knew we had the opportunity to win and we worked hard and earned it."
Though St. Tim's had beaten Catholic to win last year's title on strokes, it was still St. Tim's (10-3 in the league) who came in to this game as the underdog. No. 1 seed Catholic (9-1 in league play), had won the regular-season championship and had two regular-season wins over the No. 3 seed. But in the title game, a goal by Rebecca Kempske wasn't enough to stop St. Tim's.
"When we got my goal, to make it 2-1 [with 8:02 to play] I thought we could win," said Kempske, a sophomore. "But this was still a great year."
1Garrison Forest 2, 5Bryn Mawr 0
Goals: GF - Jarrett, Marshall. Assists: Pritchard. Saves: GF - Kuntz 4. BM- Edelman 7. Halftime: GF 1-0.
St. Timothy's 2, Catholic 1
Goals: ST - Weese (2). C - Kempske. Assists: ST - Cutts, DeSayve. C - Donatelli. Saves: ST - Strome 3. C - Merkley 4. Halftime: 0-0.