Nine Century girls lacrosse seniors know their time as Knights is coming to a close. But if you got to go, you might as well go out in style.
“It’s very bittersweet since it’s finally coming to a close, which is super sad,” Century’s Anna Hackett said, “but you want to end it on a high note.”
The high note Century is looking for is a state championship. The Knights are 17-0 heading into Saturday’s 10 a.m. Class 2A state semifinal against Middletown at Wheaton High School. The group knows it’s now or never.
“This is their last chance,” Century coach Becky Groves said. “There’s nine seniors. This is their last chance as a group of athletes, not only as lacrosse players, but this is the last time they’re going to play for Century High School.”
The seniors aren’t looking for a sad good-bye. They plan on putting everything they have into their final games to ensure they reach the top.
“As a senior, it’s definitely really emotional for me, in a good way,” Caroline Little said. “I want to see this team excel. This is my last chance to play with this team and play for Coach Groves. I think everyone has the mindset we want to leave it all on the field.”
Two wins stand between Century and a state title — the same situation the Knights faced a year ago. In fact, there are a lot of similarities. There was an emotional regional championship over Glenelg, and there was Middletown standing in the way between Century and a trip to the state finals.
“I think we need to focus on each and every game,” Groves said. “I think last year we kind of got caught up with beating Glenelg. And everyone was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we beat Glenelg. We did it.’ But that’s not the end point we want to see this year. We want to regroup, move on, focus on that next opponent.”
Century lost last year’s state semifinal to Middletown, 18-15. But there were lessons learned and the Knights are eager for a better result.
“It’s motivation for us,” Little said. “From the beginning, we kind of used that as, ‘We don’t want to be in that spot again.’ It taught us, what did we do wrong in that game we need to fix so we’re not in that spot again.”
One of the biggest lessons they said they learned was to keep their focus on the team across the field. Not thinking back to beating Glenelg, not looking ahead to a state championship game. Rather, staying in the moment.
“We definitely learned you got to come into each game, you can’t think about the past or the future, you got to come into each game focusing on that game, that day,” Lauren Hackett said. “You focus on who you’re playing, their weaknesses and their strengths and what you can do as a team.”
The seeds for this year’s run were planted after last season’s loss to Middletown. It stuck with the Knights for a full year.
“Getting back into school, we’ve had other sports seasons, but it’s definitely in the back of all of our minds,” Little said. “We were always doing offseason stuff, working to go after a championship.”
Century’s strength is its balance. There’s not one superstar carrying the load, rather a roster full of talented players working together.
“Everybody knowing their roles and accepting their roles,” Groves said. “Our team does a really good job including everybody and highlighting everyone on the team and what their strengths are.”
Century’s offense has lit up scoreboards all across Maryland this year, but it’s done so with a variety of offensive threats.
“There’s a lot of weapons on offense, I love to see it,” Lauren Hackett said. “Everyone has contributed to the team. If I’m having a bad day, I can make space, make a good cut, put a pick here and there for someone else to shine, which is perfect. ... The whole team gets a win in the end.”
Century started the season strong and never cooled off. They picked up wins against not only Carroll County rivals, but top statewide programs, including reigning Class 4A state champion and current semifinalist Broadneck.
Each win gave the nine Century seniors more and more confidence they can make the most of their last chance.
“I definitely think our confidence is getting built up and we’re just working hard every single game to work together and build our connections on the field,” Anna Hackett said.