Shannon Finch knows how to make big plays in crucial moments.
Finch, a 2019 South Carroll High School graduate, even wrote her University of Maryland Baltimore County college essay about it.
She felt a “really good feeling” and a wave of confidence when she gained possession of the ball with 12 seconds left in overtime during the Cavaliers’ Class 2A girls lacrosse state championship game against Hereford on May 21, 2019.
The environment at Paint Branch High School that night, nearly one year ago, was tense. The Bulls had not lost a game that season, and were looking to repeat as 2A state champions.
However, Finch and her teammates made sure that didn’t happen.
Finch said the last thing she remembered was hearing Cavaliers assistant coach Bill Smith shout “Go to goal!” from the sideline ― and go to goal she did.
With a swift move through the crease, Finch fired the ball into the back of the net to secure the team’s first state title in program history with a 10-9 win.
“I feel like when it comes down to the game being on the line, I get more composed,” Finch said. “I’m not frantic and I feel like I’m always ready to be the one the team counts on and I was able to make that big play … I didn’t know it would be me scoring this game-winning goal, but when it came down to it, I got down in the attacking zone and thought ‘I’m going to score this goal’ and it worked out.”
Finch experienced a similar situation one year prior, when the Cavaliers faced Westminster in a game to determine the Carroll County Athletic League champion.
The Cavaliers defeated the Owls in double overtime to win their first county title in program history after Finch intercepted an Owls’ pass to help set up Riley Evans’ eventual game-winner. Finch said she has put years of time and effort into perfecting her game and she prepares for moments like these.
Thoughts of winning a state championship were always in the back of the Cavaliers’ minds, but they knew it would take a lot of hard work and determination to get to that point. SC coach Brigid Scanlon said her girls had nothing to lose, but something to prove.
“South Carroll is in this little town from Carroll County that no one has really heard of,” Scanlon said. “There’s other great teams in this county and it was time to go out there and let themselves shine. They really want to accomplish this and the seniors last year had been playing on South Carroll rec since second and third grade together.
“They wanted to accomplish it together.”
The Cavaliers fought off Hereford all night.
The Bulls built a 4-0 lead through the first 20 minutes of play, but the Cavaliers scored the next four in 4 minutes, 39 seconds. SC didn’t gather its first lead of the game until two minutes remained in regulation, but the Bulls tied it up to force overtime.
The Cavaliers won the opening draw in overtime and held possession. Abbey Behn took a free position shot, but the ball came loose from her stick and Hereford recovered the ball.
Scanlon called a timeout with 55 seconds left to play after the Cavs secured the ball once more due to a faulty pass near SC goalie Julia Weiss in the crease.
“When she called timeout, the whole team gathered around and she was like ‘We made it this far, we’ve come so far as a team,’ and she really talked about our strength together and how much we’ve grown and the improvements we made,” Finch said. “To be there on that field in front of that huge crowd and to have the state title at our fingertips, we couldn’t give up.”
The Cavaliers were back in the state final for the first time since 1993 and finished the season with a 16-1 record.
“We knew Hereford was really good, they had a lot of talented, good players and we knew it would be a tough game,” Finch said. “I think our mindset and attitude of not giving up helped. It made us just as powerful and we were so passionate about that game and we really wanted to win. These were two incredible teams, one with a ton of talent and another with heart and willpower.
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“It was awesome to be a part of.”