South Carroll’s field hockey players and coaching staff stood along the near sideline while a cluster of their fans leaned on the railing at the front of the bleachers.
Someone in the team crowd referred to the Cavaliers “getting this bread,” which turns out to be something the kids say these days. The origin of the phrase may be up for debate, and even though one of the spectators held aloft a loaf of bread in a plastic bag, the point was evident.
South Carroll came to Washington College on Nov. 10, 2018, to win the Class 1A state championship. And the Cavs did just that, 2-0 over Patuxent.
Senior forward Grace Fipps had a goal and an assist, and the Cavaliers (11-8) capped their season with a shutout in the state final — and the program’s first championship since 2002.
They outscored their playoff competition 23-0 and turned a 6-8 regular season into quite a memorable finish.
“I told them as the game started, I would love to play in [the game] because it’s easier to control your emotions,” said SC coach Julie Radnoff. “Incredible. Shoot, I’ve probably coached 500 teams … and that was the best one ever.”
South Carroll turned a frustrating first half — the Cavaliers had the run of play for most of the opening 30 minutes — into a more successful second half, and scored early to grab the momentum.
Fipps found junior Julia Weiss inside the circle on a nifty cross from the near side for the game’s first goal with 21:58 remaining.
Senior midfielder Jenna McDermott said the same situation played out in the state semifinal against Crisfield, with scoring opportunities piling up but no goals to show for them. The Cavs broke through in the second half and won 2-0 to advance.
South Carroll talked about it during halftime, McDermott said.
“We were there, we just needed to finish it,” she said.
The Cavs thought they scored late in the first half but the officials waved it off and the game stayed scoreless going into the break. Fipps said the play motivated them to keep the intensity up.
“We were like, ‘It’s possible,’” Fipps said. “We just have to get back in there and go even harder and just show them that we’re not backing down.”
Patuxent (15-1) came into the contest trying to defend the 1A state crown, which the Panthers won last season over Francis Scott Key. Senior goalie Chloe South kept her team in it with seven saves, but the Cavs’ pressure wore down Patuxent’s defense.
A rush in the final minute had South Carroll on a 2-on-1 break, with Fipps and junior Rachel Linn looking to add the insurance goal. Linn tried to tuck a shot past South and wound up passing to Fipps, who knocked the ball in with 30 seconds remaining.
After that, the real countdown began.
Radnoff sprinted onto the field with her players as the final horn sounded, and the Cavaliers mobbed goalie Rachel Hagler (two saves) just in front of the cage.
After they gathered their belongings on their team bench, the new state champions received a victor’s welcome on the other side of the stadium.
One by one they received their state title medals, and at the end of the ceremony Radnoff hoisted the 1A state trophy.
“It’s so crazy,” McDermott said. “We’re just working so hard and just to finally [win] it’s amazing.”
Added Fipps: “We focus on step by step. We never even looked to this game until [last] Wednesday evening. We’re not going to let anyone get in our heads. We’re just going to do our own thing and play our own game.”
Radnoff said South Carroll’s motivation to win this fall came from last years playoff loss to FSK, a defeat that lingered longer than usual. And that was OK with the coach, who said she knew the fuel for 2018 would be there.
“They busted it from the beginning part of the year,” Radnoff said. “And people counted us out, and we graduated a lot last year. And they never lost hope, and they never stopped working hard.”