BURTONSVILLE — Led by the program’s 12 seniors, Towson girls lacrosse didn’t want Saturday afternoon’s Class 3A state semifinal to be its final game together.
This group already brought Towson to a stage it hadn’t been in 15 years, but the top-seeded Generals still weren’t satisfied. After the teams exchanged a pair of goals early, Towson took complete control, outscoring the fourth-seeded Lancers by seven over the remainder of the first half and maintaining that sizable halftime lead the rest of the way in a 14-6 win at Paint Branch High School.
Towson advances to next week’s state championship, where it will face last year’s runner-up, No. 2 seed Severna Park, on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Stevenson University.
“It’s crazy, I’ve been working for it for four years,” Towson senior attacker Avery Briggs said. “I’ve never gotten this far — the semifinals let alone the championship. It’s awesome, I’m just thrilled to go into it and hopefully we’ll get a win.”
With the score tied at 2, Towson leaned on its unselfishness to build Its lead. The Generals scored four straight goals, three of which were assisted, creating offense with their off-ball movement and cuts through the middle. Brigid Vaikness, Mary Claire Heubeck and Gabi Galvez each tallied goals, with Briggs and Chloe Gibson facilitating the offense.
After Linganore got a goal back, Towson immediately regained control. With Briggs and Galvez continuing to lead the way, Towson scored the final five goals of the first half to take a commanding 11-3 halftime lead.
“It’s definitely been key,” Galvez said of the movement offensively. “We have gotten really good at taking our time and working for the best shot. It’s important that all of us are always on the same page with the play, whether we’re holding the ball or whether we’re trying to get to goal immediately. I think that is definitely going to be one of the most important things in the state championship.”
Maintaining a sizable halftime lead, Towson (15-1) kept its foot on the gas in the second. The Generals continued to control possession and dictate tempo in the final 25 minutes. Whenever the ball was on the ground or Linganore seemingly had an opening, the Generals were there to quickly eliminate it.
“It honestly just shows that they want another day together,” Towson coach Taylor Carhart said. “They just don’t want their season to end. No matter what they have to do, how they have to sell out to make out so they just wanted every little second that they can get together. That’s why they’re doing they’re what they are out there.”
Thriving as a facilitator in the first half, Gibson scored two of Towson’s three second-half goals, ensuring that Linganore (12-3) wasn’t able to cut into the lead. The Generals’ defense continued to make it challenging for the Lancers to find space with the clock continuing to dwindle.
Soon after the final buzzer sounded, the Generals sprinted toward senior goalie Lucy Buttarazzi, who started the second half after fellow senior Meghan Cottrell played the first. Then the celebration ensued with ear-to-ear smiles, as Towson returns to a stage it hasn’t been on in 15 years and is a win away from capturing the program’s second state title and first since 1997.
“Whether they play lacrosse in college or not or whether they play anything in college or not, they can always look back on this time in their lives and think, man, did I really make the most of every opportunity that I was given?” Carhart said of the seniors. “Did I get every experience out of high school that I could possibly get? Did I get to do it with my other 11 best friends out there?
“I’m just really happy for them because they deserve it. The coaches and administrators love these players, the players love each other. A team lives and dies by their seniors and the seniors set the tone. They came in and they said we can do it and we’re committing ourselves to it and all the underclassmen followed suit. I’m just glad that they got every opportunity out of this season that they could to be together.”
Goals: T — Gabi Galvez 4, Avery Briggs 3, Brigid Vaikness 2, Chloe Gibson 2, Finlay Harmon 1, Mary Claire 1, Heubeck 1, Jillian McNulty 1; L — Meg Hummel 3, Reese Wallich 1, Leah Doy 1, Hadley Robertson 1.