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Westminster and Liberty played across from each other Friday afternoon at Western Regional Park in a pair of state quarterfinal field hockey games.

Both Carroll County teams prevailed, one backed by defense and another that put forth an offensive performance.

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The Owls blanked Rockville 4-0 to win their 3A quarterfinal while the Lions crushed Kent County 8-1 on the 1A side to stay undefeated this fall.

It’s defense that might well be leading Westminster (12-5) to another state championship season. The Owls boast freshman Miranda Moshang, juniors Ani Gardner and Sydney Schinknai, and senior Emma Border along their back row. Westminster lost 3-0 to South Carroll on Oct. 14, but since then the Owls have allowed one goal with back-to-back shutouts.

“I like how we all work together,” Border said. “And we’re all fast … we work well together.”

Westminster coach Laurie Naill said she uses Border all over the field, but her specialty is marking the opposing team’s top offensive player. That means Border’s asked to exude non-stop hustle for 60 minutes, sprinting back to play defense and into then vaulting the midfield to help with transition play.

Border said her job description is an easy one.

“I just kind of run and hope for the best,” she said.

Naill laughed when she heard her senior’s explanation.

“Listen, I know that she’s going to get there and I know that if I tell her to do something she’s going to do it,” Naill said. “I have that trust in her that she’s going to give 110% percent all the time.”

Jess Kent, another freshman, paced the Owls’ offense with one goal and two assists. Westminster applied pressure early on with a handful of penalty corners, and broke through less than 9 minutes into the game when Audrey Detrow converted off a Kent assist.

The Owls added goals from Julia Rogalski and Eleni Tartaglia, and Margi DiPietro posted an assist. Westminster advances to the state semifinals for the fourth time in five seasons.

“It starts from the back to the front,” Naill said. “And when that’s on, you can have an off day on offense and only get one goal. But if your defense is right on, that can save the game.”

Westminster is set to face Huntingtown in the state semifinals Nov. 6 at Paint Branch High School. Huntingtown edged C. Milton Wright 1-0 on Friday.

A few minutes before the Owls clinched their win, Liberty (16-0) polished off Kent County for its fourth consecutive state semifinal berth. The Lions got four goals from senior Caroline Evans and three from junior Kayleigh Ward, with senior Riley Pardoe handing out three assists. They enjoyed a running clock for the better part of the second half.

Liberty scored four times in the first 18 minutes of the game and controlled things from the start, a point of emphasis for the state quarterfinals.

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Playing Wednesday at Western Regional in the 1A West Region 1 final, a 1-0 overtime win over county rival South Carroll, gave the Lions one day of practice to work on things. Strohmer said aggression was key on the artificial turf field.

“Since we play on grass all the time, deflections don’t work,” Strohmer said. “We practiced a lot of deflections, and most of our goals were from a deflection of some sort. So I’m excited about that part. What we practiced [Thursday] they literally put into a game right away.”

Friday’s game allowed Strohmer to get all of her players on the field, something else the coach was pleased about.

It’s best to savor the experience – Liberty awaits the winner of Saturday’s quarterfinal between Francis Scott Key and Patuxent for a semifinal showdown Nov. 7 at Paint Branch High.

Liberty 8, Kent Island 1

Goals: K-Kate Ervin; L-Caroline Evans 4, Kayleigh Ward 3, Riley Pardoe.

Assists: K-Kendell Ford; L-Pardoe 3, Ward 2, Caitlynn Szarko, Meghan Huey.

Saves: K-12 (Caroline Milligan); L-0 (Mikayla Bull).

Halftime: Liberty, 4-0.

Westminster 4, Rockville 0

Goals: W-Audrey Detrow, Julia Rogalski, Eleni Tartaglia, Jess Kent.

Assists: W-Kent 2, Margi DiPietro.

Saves: R-11 (Ashlyn Casp); W-5 (Megan Watkins).

Halftime: Westminster, 1-0.

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