WINFIELD — Before the start of the season, South Carroll coach Julie Radnoff said her field hockey players made a decision to arrive 30 minutes early before each practice.
That gave the Cavaliers time to practice balance work, footwork and stick skills with the hope that their extended effort would eventually pay off.
When the final seconds ticked away in Wednesday’s Class 1A West Region championship game against visiting Catoctin, Radnoff and her team got their satisfaction.
South Carroll left little doubt, scoring four first-half goals in a convincing 7-0 win over the Cougars — earning its first regional championship since 2004.
“After a  loss to FSK, we really wanted to redeem ourselves and we knew this year we could,” said Jenna McDermott, a four-year starter for South Carroll. “Every day after school we’d come right here and just practice hard for two hours and it really paid off.”
Abbey Behn scored two goals, and the senior forward added two assists. Julia Weiss, Kiersten Straley, Kristin Gruber, Shannon Finch, and Campbell Vitek also tallied scores for SC.
Seniors Grace Fipps and Meghan Radnoff each added assists.
Julie Radnoff said the players’ ability to buy into working hard, and to hold each other accountable, has contributed largely to the team’s success this year.
South Carroll’s team motto — “All it takes is all you’ve got” — was instilled before the season, the third-year coach added.
“We decided that our job is not to focus on what we could or could not do,” Radnoff said. “It was to compete. To bring our highest level of competition to everything we did.”
Goals came in bunches for South Carroll (9-8) and Behn fired her shot into the back of the cage with 14:07 remaining in the first half.
She found herself on the receiving end of a Fipps’ pass a few minutes out of intermission to extend SC’s lead to 5-0 and force a running clock.
The scoring gap allowed Radnoff to rest some of her starters and allow younger players to receive valuable playing time in a playoff setting.
Behn, as a senior, was delighted to see that happen.
“It’s really cool because they’re working just as hard as us in practice,” she said. “To see that work pay off and a lot of them out their scoring goals … it’s cool.”
South Carroll dominated in its half of the field and forced 20 penalty corners to Catoctin’s one. Cavs goalie Rachel Hagler and the backline were left with little to worry about for 60 minutes.
Late goals from Straley and Vitek capped a convincing performance as the players on the Cavaliers’ sideline began to generate excitement with only a few minutes remaining.
South Carroll advances to the Class 1A state semifinals as one of only four teams remaining. The Cavs await the winner of Thursday’s 1A East final between Crisfield and Kent Island, and the semifinal is set for next Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Broadneck High School..
Excitement is warranted from such an accomplishment, but short-lived given the ultimate goal — to be the final team.
“We’ve worked hard from the beginning part of the season to get to this point,” Radnoff said. “We’re not done. It was great, we’re happy with it, but we want to keep on pushing.”
Goals: SC- Abbey Behn 2, Julia Weiss, Kiersten Straley, Kristin Gruber, Shannon Finch, Campbell Vitek.
Assists: SC-Behn 2, Weiss 2, Grace Fipps, Meghan Radnoff.
Saves: C- 17 (Kyleigh Little, Ella Oleszczuk); SC-none.
Halftime: SC, 4-0.