Henry's persistence pays off as No. 11 Bel Air wins its first girls lacrosse state title, 10-9

Bel Air's Julia Henry had a chance to give her team the lead with just a few seconds left in Tuesday night's Class 4A-3A state championship, but Severna Park goalie Amanda Rumsey got her stick in the way of the shot.

That didn't deter the junior attacker.

"I'm going crazy. I'm like, 'Are you kidding me? That was my one opportunity,' but I decided to stay on the goalie because there was only a few seconds left, so I was like, 'Maybe I can get a turnover.' "

Henry's persistence paid off, because Rumsey, who had played a terrific game, lost the handle on the ball.

"The ball was rolling back like into the goal, so she had to flick it out really quickly," Henry said, "and it popped out of the crease and she couldn't get there in time, so I picked it up, grabbed it, threw in a couple fakes and put it right in."

That goal — and the Bobcats' Grace Wehland winning the next draw — gave No. 11 Bel Air its first girls lacrosse state championship, 10-9, at Stevenson University's Mustang Stadium.

The Bobcats (15-4) and No. 8 Severna Park (17-3) met in the title game for the second time in three years. The Falcons won the last meeting, 18-15, as the teams combined for the most goals in a state tournament game.

This year's game had a much different feel. Both teams played such stellar defense that it's not much of surprise that it took a quirky goal like Henry's to make the difference. The game was tied five times and the lead changed seven times.

Both teams felt for the bitterly disappointed Rumsey, who finished with eight saves.

"She had a hell of a game," Falcons coach Kaitlyn Hines said, "and what a game to have. I could not be more proud of the way she played, coming up with huge saves for us. I really want to stress and make sure people don't look at that last shot, because there's nothing that could have been done, point-blank range right in front of the cage."

The Bobcats, who got five goals from Henry and four from Elizabeth Hillman, called this a "season of redemption," but so did the Falcons, who got five goals from Sarah Elms. Neither team made it to the state final last year, and both were determined to return this time.

"It was kind of like it was meant to be to play them again," Farley said, "being able to play them again with this group of girls, because we kind of struggled a little bit throughout our season and we connected perfectly in this game and everyone on our team killed it. Everyone contributed."

The Falcons, who won their 13th state title two years ago over Bel Air, were aiming to pull within one of Mount Hebron's record 15 championships and it appeared they might when they came roaring back from an 8-6 deficit midway through the second half.

To open the second half, the Bobcats scored three straight goals to take the two-goal lead when Henry fed Lexi Strobel. Elms answered that with two goals in 47 seconds. With 4:51 to go Claire Domshick scored her second goal of the game to put the Falcons up 9-8.

Severna Park won the next draw but the Bobcats forced a turnover and although Rumsey made a save off her should to hold them off briefly, Farley fed Maggi Hall to tie the game with 2:12 to go.

On that goal, the Falcons were given a yellow card and had to play man-down for two minutes. The penalty expired just a second before Henry's game-winning goal.

For Bel Air coach Kristen Barry, the win over the Falcons was significant not just because it was their first state championship, because she said they "set the standard in 4A-3A for what it means to be a phenomenal program."

But she and the returning players remember what it felt like to be on the other side of the outcome.

"I said at that press conference that people are going to know our name. People are going to know Bel Air lacrosse and we stayed on the grind and here we are two years later and now we are the champs and these girls made it happen."

For the Falcons, who went into the final on a 15-game winning streak, their seniors finish their careers with appearances in four state championships and a couple of titles.

After not making it to the state final with a veteran group last season, the Falcons overcame a slow start to return this spring.

"We were kind of iffy at the beginning of the season," Elms said, "and we only got better throughout the season. Everyone just got better playing with each other and playing with the better players and coming off that loss last year was really tough so we knew this was our redemption year and we wanted to get back to states again."



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Scoring summary

Goals: BA--Henry 5, Hillman 4, Strobel, Hall; SP--Elms 5, Domshick 2, Miller, Martel. Assists: BA--Henry, Asher, Hall, Strobel, Farley; SP--Martel. Saves: BA--Loughlin 6; SP--Rumsey 8. Half: SP, 6-5.