Mount Hebron midfielder Samantha Brookhart spends 20 minutes of every practice honing her draw control skills and it paid off in a regional final rematch Wednesday night against the Vikings' biggest rival, defending state champion Marriotts Ridge.
Brookhart won a handful of draws and her teammates won most of the rest to give the Vikings a huge edge in possession, fueling a 10-8 victory in the Class 3A-2A East girls lacrosse final that spoiled the No. 4 Mustangs unbeaten season.
The Vikings, who lost to the Mustangs in the last two regional finals, advance to the state tournament for the 20th time and will go for their 16th championship. They will play Queen Anne's in the semifinals Friday at 6 p.m. in Annapolis.
Last season, the Vikings won the regular-season meeting and went on to take Howard County and District V championships before Marriotts Ridge knocked them out in the regional final. This year, the Mustangs won the first meeting, 12-6, and went on to win both titles before Mount Hebron (14-2) turned the tables on them Wednesday.
"It's amazing," Brookhart, a junior, said. "This is what I was planning to do in our next chapter, to win states and we've gotten this far, so why not go all the way?"
The Vikings won the first three draws and took a 3-0 lead in less than 10 minutes. The host Mustangs cut it to 3-2 on Molly Fleming's transition goal, but the Vikings answered with three more goals — two from Haley Sutton and a third when Brookhart drew a double team behind the goal to set up Jamie Schwartz's crease roll.
Late in the second half, the Mustangs pulled within 9-7 when Nicole Grote fed Zoe Stukenberg for a pair of goals and Marissa Davey added another off a rebound of Stukenberg shot.
But the Vikings won the next draw and Natalie Marciniak raced ahead of the Mustangs' defense to take the quick pass and boost the lead to three with 3:31 to go.
The Vikings 13-7 advantage on the draw combined with patient attack and disciplined defense made it hard for the Mustangs to sustain any momentum although they outshot Mount Hebron, 12-3, in the second half.
"It was like pouring syrup down a hill. It just wasn't moving," Stukenberg said of her Mustangs' offense. "We'd get a little momentum and then we'd stop. Then we'd get a little momentum and they'd score [three] goals. We never quit though. I was so proud of our team. We came back. We scored three goals and we held them scoreless for half the second half."
Goals: MH—Sutton 3, Schwartz 2, Giles 2, Brookhart 2, Marciniak; MR--Stukenberg 4, Fleming, Grote Davey, Hensh. Assists: MH—Schwartz 2, Giles; MR—Grote 2. Saves: MH—Fisher 6; MR--S.Ortell 2, R.Ortell 2. Half: MH, 8-4.