Westminster field hockey coach Laurie Naill likes to remind her varsity players that they always have the potential to make good things happen.
Junior forward Kirby Henneman admitted she thought the team started out flat against Centennial in Monday’s Class 3A East Region 1 semifinal, but the Owls turned an early 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 victory.
Henneman scored three goals, Julia Rogalski notched the eventual game-winner, and Audrey Detrow also found the back of the cage. Goalie Megan Watkins made two saves for the Owls (10-5), who advance to take on top-seeded Mount Hebron on Wednesday.
“When we started off slow, we sort of had a dragging energy, but when they got it in our lovely coach gave us that intensity and we answered back,” Detrow said. “Kirby played amazing and got us all hyped up … field hockey, man.”
Centennial’s Abby Cudizilo took a penalty corner with 9 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first half, and the Eagles’ first shot at the cage was stopped by Watkins. Alaina Kelly connected with the rebounded ball, and pushed it into the goal to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
“Right before that goal, the little things were hurting us,” Naill said. “We were not having our sticks down, they were beating us to the ball, we weren’t communicating, so that’s why I took a timeout and told them I could accept one person missing it, but four people missing, I can’t accept that, so we need to be the ones to touch the ball first and get the ball in the cage.”
Henneman scored less than 3 minutes later off a feed from defender Miranda Moshang to tie the teams 1-1. Margi DiPietro took a penalty corner with less than 2 minutes to play in the first half, and Rogalski received the cross and scored to give the Owls a 2-1 lead.
DiPietro took a pair of penalty corners in the second half for the Owls, and the ball remained in the Eagles’ defensive zone for about a minute until Henneman garnered possession and scored again to put the Owls up 3-1.
Henneman notched her third goal with 6:44 to go, and Detrow scored with 20 seconds left to play to give the Owls their final goal of the game.
“In these types of games when you’re coming out and you already know who you’re playing, you have to exceed your own expectations of your own capability to know how you played before and play better than that,” Detrow said. “You have to play up.”
Centennial goalie Casey Stratton made 10 saves for the Eagles (3-10).
If Westminster wins Wednesday, the Owls will make their 28th appearance in the state tournament, the second most in Maryland history.
“Every single game we make personal and team goals, and I think today a lot of our team goals were to not be cocky and come out 110%,” Henneman said. “That’s always our thing and it’s always Coach’s thing, to come out 110% and always communicate and if you cut to the ball, guarantee you’re going to get the win.”
Goals: C-Alaina Kelly; W-Kirby Henneman 3, Julia Rogalski, Audrey Detrow.
Assists: C-none; W-Miranda Moshang, Margi DiPietro.
Saves: C-10 (Casey Stratton); W-2 (Megan Watkins).
Halftime: Westminster, 2-1.