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Time runs out, but Liberty field hockey keeps win streak alive by beating Century for Carroll County title

WOODBINE — Their coach called it the fastest 7 minutes of her life, but Jenna Evans and Amanda Cyran said it felt more like an eternity.

Liberty and Century resumed their field hockey clash to determine this year’s county champion. After playing 53 minutes Friday before weather delays forced a suspended game, the Lions and Knights returned to Western Regional Park on Tuesday to settle things.

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And they needed a few extra seconds to do so.

Liberty drew a penalty corner chance as time expired in regulation, but the Lions were allowed to play it out by rule with zeros on the clock. They brought all of their players into Century’s defensive half of the field; the ball never left the circle, which would have sent the game into overtime.

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Evans cleaned up a pass from Cyran amid a scrum in front of the goal and knocked in the game-winner, giving Liberty a 2-1 win and its third county title in as many seasons.

Liberty captains Caitlynn Szarko and Kayleigh Ward celebrate the Lions' 2-1 county championship win over the Century Knights on a goal by Jenna Evans with no time remaining in the continuation of their April 9 game that was postponed by lightning at Western Regional Park in Woodbine Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
Liberty captains Caitlynn Szarko and Kayleigh Ward celebrate the Lions' 2-1 county championship win over the Century Knights on a goal by Jenna Evans with no time remaining in the continuation of their April 9 game that was postponed by lightning at Western Regional Park in Woodbine Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (Dylan Slagle)

The Lions (8-0) collected four penalty-corner tries in the 7 minutes, the last of which was the result of a midfield dash into Knights territory to set things up as time ticked away. Overtime seemed imminent, but coach Brenda Strohmer said her players were determined to prevent the extra period.

“We had an intense practice [Monday], a very focused practice,” Strohmer said. “They came out fired up, they came out ready to go. They were like, ‘Leave it all out on the field guys, you have 7 minutes. ... We don’t want to go into overtime.’”

They didn’t. Evans started the corner play from the near side, and teammate Caitlynn Szarko got her stick on the ball to send it toward the goal. The ball bounced around before Cyran poked it toward Evans, who sent the Lions home happy.

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“We just had to come out fast, because we knew [Century] would come out fast,” Evans said. “We didn’t have time to waste in the beginning, so we just had to come out and act like it was the ending of the game.”

Century (7-2) never got a chance to mount an offensive possession. The Knights led 1-0 on Friday thanks to an early goal from Sadie Simon, and they held momentum through much of the first half and third quarter.

Liberty was garnering scoring chances before weather delays forced a suspended game. Cyran said the Lions being able to hit pause and not lose their rhythm was huge.

“Our mindset going into it was to pretend that we didn’t even end the game,” she said. “It was just like a timeout or something.”

A three-day timeout, as it were.

Century was seeking its first county championship in seven years, and coach Terry Duryea said despite Tuesday’s loss she was proud of how her team played during this shortened season.

“A time-expired corner is ... it’s pretty brutal,” Duryea said. “We lost a lot of starters [from] last year. Now I have all seniors starting, which is awesome. It’s a great position to be in. We had a lot of fun this year.”

Century goalie Jill Haudenshield protects the goal against the Lions offense in the continuation of their April 9 game that was postponed by lightning at Western Regional Park in Woodbine Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
Century goalie Jill Haudenshield protects the goal against the Lions offense in the continuation of their April 9 game that was postponed by lightning at Western Regional Park in Woodbine Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (Dylan Slagle)

Duryea said she wished there had been a chance for postseason play, something Strohmer likely agrees with since Liberty has won 35 consecutive games and three state titles in four seasons. Strohmer said the Lions were simply motivated to repeat as county champs.

“They wanted to do it for the seniors. These seniors have worked hard for four years,” the coach said. “They didn’t want this weird season to end in our first loss, in a quick game, and not winning counties.”

Goals: L-Caitlynn Szarko, Jenna Evans; C-Sadie Simon

Assists: L-Amanda Cyran; C-Demma Hall

Saves: L-4 (Emma Meissner); C-12 (Jill Haudenshield)

Halftime: Tied, 0-0

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