As the youngest girls lacrosse program in Carroll County, upstart Manchester Valley doesn't yet have the reputation, or the championship banners, of some of the county's more established teams.
On Thursday night, however, the host Mavericks rallied for what very well could be their defining win.
Down by three goals midway through the second half against No. 13 Century — a state finalist each of the past five years — No. 12 Manchester Valley closed the game with four straight goals, including the game-winner by sophomore Lizzie Colson with 3:15 left, in a 10-9 win.
"We're a small school, but this is such a big statement," Colson said. "It was kind of the first game we've had a gut check. We needed to really step it up. We knew we only had one chance … and we had to give it all we had."
Colson finished with three goals, and teammates Allie Little and Rayna Deltuva had two each for the Mavericks (10-0 overall, 5-0 Carroll County), who beat Century (7-3, 4-1) for the first time since the inception of the program in 2009.
Trailing, 9-6, with just more than 17 minutes left, Manchester Valley turned up its intensity on defense and kept the Knights off the board the remainder of the way.
"We focused on making the little plays. I told them [to] stop thinking of it as a big [task]," Mavericks coach Shelly Brezicki said. "It was the little things that were going to bring it back together. It was a little bit of a gut check at the end. You really get to find out what you're made of in games like this."
Despite three goals from Century midfielder Madi Hall, Manchester Valley turned the tide by forcing turnovers, winning draws and grabbing loose balls.
The hosts pulled even on Deltuva's free-position goal with 6:31 left, then took a 10-9 lead with just more than 3 minutes to play when Colson drove past a defender to her left, then fired across her body for the score.
"I was just thinking 'catch first,' than you've got to focus on the shot," Colson said. "When it went in, I was so excited, I couldn't think."
It marked the first county loss for Century, which was coming off a 22-goal performance against North Carroll on Tuesday.
"Truthfully, I felt we were in the driver's seat. Then, we all of the sudden forgot how to play lacrosse," Knights coach Becky Groves said. "Tonight we crumbled under the pressure. [Manchester Valley] played with the intensity and the heart and desire to get the ball back and win the game. They were playing to win. We were playing not to lose."
Manchester Valley 10, Century 9
Goals: C-Hall 3, Davis 2, Warther 2, Hyatt 2; MV- L. Colson 3, Little 2 Deltuva 2, S. Colson, Tabler, Walter. Assists: C-Davis, Warther; MV-Little, Houck. Saves: C-Schaffer 3, Pluta 4; MV-Eichhorst 2. Half: Century, 6-5.