CHESTERTOWN — Most of the tears had dried by the time Francis Scott Key’s field hockey players received their medals and posed for some team photos.
The Eagles endured a 2-0 loss to Patuxent in the Class 1A state championship game Saturday at Washington College in the team’s first finals appearance in more than two decades.
But Key, with only four seniors on its roster, did its best to soak up the experience.
“I think it was a long time coming for us,” said FSK’s Suzanne Edwards, a junior defender. “We’ve been playing for each other since we’ve been in fourth grade, third grade. We all knew that once we got to high school … aww, we got it now.”
Francis Scott Key (11-6) claimed its first regional title since 1996 with a big win over Walkersville, then edged Fallston 1-0 in the state semifinals to be the last Carroll field hockey team standing this weekend.
Patuxent (16-1) came out strong to start the title game, and the Panthers struck with 18 minutes remaining in the half when Kendra Scurggs got one past goalie Kourtney Black.
FSK’s defense stayed together for the remainder of the half, and Black stood tall with nine saves to keep the Eagles in the game.
They had a solid chance to tie things up a few minutes after Scruggs’ marker. Edwards shifted into the circle coming off a penalty-corner attempt and had space in front of Patuxent’s cage. She ripped a clean shot, but Panthers goalie Chloe South stopped the ball and preserved the lead.
Midfielder Mack Dinopoulos padded the Panthers’ lead about seven minutes into the second half and Patuxent led 2-0, leaving Francis Scott Key with a sinking feeling.
“It was a well played game,” said Black, who finished with 11 saves. “We did start out a little slow, but I feel like it was just nerves with coming into a big game like this.”
Patuxent reached the state semifinals last fall, and the finals in 2015, so the Panthers were jubilant in celebrating their program’s first crown.
Francis Scott Key has five state titles, but none since 1993. The Eagles were motivated to reach this point after such a long drought. Now, Edwards said, those who will return next fall will use their state title game defeat as more fuel.
FSK coach Lori Knights agreed.
“It’s huge for the girls, it’s huge for the school,” Knight said about playing in the finals. “For them to have the feeling and experience it … that it can be done, and it can be done from our school. Next year we’ll start at that point and just keep digging and get back here.”