The Loch Raven field hockey team’s season began with uncertainty as the Raiders went 0-4.
Then the team quickly bonded and ran off an 11-game winning streak to reach the Class 1A state semifinals.
But defending state champion North Carroll ended Loch Raven’s magical ride Monday night at Broadneck High in Annapolis, as junior attackers Zoe Rosner and Jensyn Koontz scored two goals apiece to give the Panthers a 5-1 victory.
The Raiders (11-5) made it a 1-1 on a Taylor Dodd goal early in the second half.
The rest of the game, however, belonged to North Carroll as the Panthers (14-2) scored four goals in the final 22 minutes en route to the victory.
North Carroll will play Fallston for the state championship at 4 p.m. Saturday at Washington College, in Chestertown.
“They are the defending state champs,” Loch Raven coach Danielle Grzebien said. “So they have that under their belt. This is the first time any of our girls have made it to the state semifinals. They didn’t know what it was about. They were excited in the moment. Clearly, they know what to expect from being here.”
North Carroll outshot Loch Raven, 10-2, had a 17-4 bulge in penalty corners and controlled the ball for large stretches of the game.
The Panthers were constantly attacking the Raiders’ defense of Katie Lowman, Hannah Maxwell, Jesse Sartor and Hannah Grabnor and goalie Kyra Anderson (10 saves) in the first half.
Maxwell and Sartor blocked shots on two North Carroll scoring opportunities before Rosner couldn’t control a pass from Kristin Nickoles right at the left post with Anderson at the other end of the goal.
North Carroll finally broke through with 15:04 remaining in the first half when Molly Pickard beat Anderson to the left corner with a hard shot to make it 1-0 — the halftime score.
Loch Raven tied it at 1-1 on Dodd’s goal 2:46 into the second half off a penalty corner. She redirected Robyn Memphis’ blistering shot, which came from right outside the 16-yard circle.
“Being down 1-0, our defense did a wonderful job holding them down and Anderson made some great saves,” Grzebien said. “Scoring a goal in the first five minutes of the second half kind of set a tone. But after that, they just took over.”
North Carroll went ahead for good as Rosner tipped Pickard’s shot past Anderson with 21:13 left.
The Panthers scored 65 seconds later to go ahead 3-1. Koontz found the back of the cage after collecting a feed from Meghan Harmon.
The Panthers made plenty of crisp passes in transition.
"We were able to control the tempo of the game," North Carroll coach Denean Koontz said. "One thing this team does pretty well is move the ball. We use the width of the field, which is tough to defend."
North Carroll added two goals in the final six minutes.