Winston Churchill senior Hailey Yentis scored a goal in each half to lead the Bulldogs to a 2-0 victory over Dulaney in the Class 4A state field hockey semifinals Wednesday night at Paint Branch High.
Churchill (16-0) is going back to the state championship game for the second straight year after losing to Severna Park, 2-0, in 2021. Yentis was on the sideline as the team manager for that game.
“I never thought I would go to state championships,” she said. “It’s so surreal because one year ago today I was in crutches. I tore my ACL and I never thought I would be on the field today.”
Yentis scored her first goal midway through the opening quarter after depositing a pass from Jordan Lapidus.
“I wasn’t expecting getting the goal, but it was really amazing and I wouldn’t have gotten it without my teammate Jordan,” Yentis said. “Me and her just have this sort of chemistry whatever we are doing.”
Dulaney (13-4) had two solid scoring opportunities late in the first quarter off penalty corners. The first one, inserted by Campbell Bowman, was shot on goal by leading scorer Ava Winner and saved by Laila Birki. The second shot by Eve Fowler was also saved by Birki.
Dulaney didn’t get a penalty corner or shot on goal in the second half.
“I just felt like the second half we did not have the same energy that we had in the first half,” Dulaney coach Meredith Lott said. “They obviously did a great job defensively putting two, three and sometimes four girls on Ava, or whoever had the ball. They just had constant defensive pressure.”
Said Churchill coach Cay Miller: “The game plan for us defensively was to mark tight and challenge their players who were trying to make a big play. We knew their no. 2 [Winner] was really strong and we knew their no. 18 [MK Anglim] was really strong and any time either of them had the ball, we needed to challenge them quickly.”
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Winner, who will play at Indiana University next year, navigated through the midfield with slick dribbling, but the pressure heated up when she got near the circle.
“We were told 18 and 2 are very, very skilled players and they have a lot of chemistry and we were told to be aware of them,” Yentis said. “We didn’t really have a plan to swarm, but we were practicing double-teaming as well at all of our practices.”
Churchill had a pair of scoring chances early in the second half, but shots by Emma Datch and Julieta Matus were saved by Dulaney goalie Addie Erdman.
Yentis scored the insurance tally less than three minutes into the fourth quarter after her shot rebounded off a defender and she put in the rebound.
“She is super fast and she is smart,” Miller said. “She knows where to be and she has the feet to get her there.”
Despite the loss, Lott can look back at a highly successful season that included a county and regional championship.
“Obviously I would have loved to take this senior group to the state finals, but looking at my roster, I have a lot of ninth graders, 10th graders and 11th graders, so the future is very bright for Dulaney field hockey,” Lott said. “I’m sad for my seniors, but I am so excited for next year and just the talent that I have on my roster.”