Westminster’s first true gut check of the season occurred Wednesday night against Linganore, when the Lancers enjoyed a four-goal lead and the Owls appeared on the verge of disarray.
Plenty of time remained in the Class 3A West Region championship, but Linganore was in control and the home team didn’t have the look of a reigning state champion. Perhaps that fact carried the Owls from there — Westminster, experienced in such situations, turned things around and overcame two more deficits to escape with a 15-14 victory at Ruby Field and repeat as regional champs.
The Owls (17-0) won their 35th consecutive game and got past the Lancers in the region final for a second year in a row. Last year’s contest went to overtime before Conner Covey won it for Westminster.
Extra time wasn’t needed in this one, but the Owls used almost every second to come away with the win.
Bubba Love scored six goals to pace the offense and Covey added four, with Love and Chase Buckwalter each handing out three assists. Covey’s fourth goal came with 2:35 to play and put the Owls ahead 15-12, but Linganore wasn’t ready to bow out.
The Lancers, led by face-off standout Will Coletti and attackman Roman LaRocco, scored twice in the next minutes to pull within one.
LaRocco netted both goals, and Linganore (14-3) won the ensuing face-off. A shot sailed over the goal moments later, but Owls goalie Logan Covey hustled out of the crease and beat a defender to the ball to give Westminster possession.
The Owls committed a turnover near midfield, which gave Linganore life. But the Lancers turned it over in Westminster’s end after that, and the Owls held on after calling timeout and running out the final seconds.
“It’s one play at a time; we forget the last play,” said Covey, who shined in goal with 20 saves. “If they get a goal, it’s done. It’s onto the next one.”
LaRocco had six goals for the Lancers, who led 7-3 midway through the second period after Westminster started the game on a 3-0 run.
Linganore led 8-7 at halftime and 10-9 with 7:34 remaining in the third quarter before Love scored his fifth goal and Buckwalter potted two his two goals over the final 6 minutes.
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The Lancers drew even at 12-12 to open the fourth quarter, on two goals from Cole Blanche, but Westminster never trailed again. Conner Covey scored twice and Love got his sixth over a three-minute stretch, and the Owls held on after that.
Westminster went 18-1 last season and won 18 games in a row after dropping its opener, en route to the 3A state crown. The Owls have tacked on 16 wins to their streak, and are headed to the state tournament for the 11th time in program history and third year in a row.
“Incredible,” Logan Covey said. “It gives us momentum now, and we’re back to work tomorrow. Tomorrow’s a new day.”
Goals: L-Roman LaRocco 6, Cole Blanche 4, Will Coletti 3, Noah Grenis; W-Bubba Love 6, Conner Covey 4, Christian Etchison 3, Chase Buckwalter 2.
Assists: L-Coletti 2, LaRocco, Grenis, Cooper Fabry; W-Love 3, Buckwalter 3, Covey 2, Justin Hulse.
Saves: L-12 (Ayden Bawcombe); W-20 (Logan Covey).
Halftime: Linganore, 8-7.