The field hockey scoreboard at Westminster High School is adorned with plaques to recognize each of the program’s nine state championships.
This year’s team has a chance to add one more.
The Owls started strong in Wednesday’s Class 3A West Region championship game against Urbana, then withstood a second-half push from the visiting team and finished off a 3-1 victory.
Westminster (13-3) captured its 27th regional title, tying it with Pocomoke for second most in Maryland history. Getting there wasn’t a breeze, however.
The Owls led 2-0 less than 13 minutes into the game, but lost senior midfielder Veronica Maring to a hand injury a few moments before tallying their second goal.
Maring, the reigning Times Player of the Year, put Westminster up at the 27-minute mark, and sophomore Kirby Henneman knocked in the Owls’ second marker.
But Maring went down with 17:57 to play, and had to leave the school for medical treatment on her left hand.
Urbana came out energized in the second half, and when Paige Bristow took advantage of a loose ball near the cage the Hawks were back in it.
Westminster coach Laurie Naill called for a timeout a few minutes after Bristow scored, with Urbana in control and the Owls on their heels a bit.
“We started out slow, and we didn’t come out in the same way as we did in the first half,” Naill said. “We weren’t connecting with each other. So we had to maintain our composure … and go from there.”
Naill said losing Maring changed the momentum, but she asked her players to turned the frustration into renewed energy. Urbana (10-3) finished with more penalty corners than the Owls, 6-3, but couldn’t come up with the equalizer.
Eleni Tartaglia, a junior forward, added the insurance goal with 9:02 remaining.
“We did feel a little [too] comfortable, but we definitely persevered,” said Tartaglia, who assisted on Henneman’s goal. “We had a nice energy change. I think we’re all very close as a team, and I think it helps when the high energy level is up, and our confidence is up.”
Westminster’s word for the season is confidence, Naill said. And the Owls seemed inspired by it Wednesday.
They lost Henneman late in the second half when she went down with an injury near midfield. Henneman said she lost a tooth on the play.
Maring came back to Westminster just after the Owls celebrated with the regional championship plaque, her left hand wrapped in a bandage. Maring, who injured that hand earlier in the year, said she received four stitches to close a wound.
Consider the Owls battle-tested as they head to the state semifinals — they avenged last year’s regional final loss to Urbana, a 2-1 double-overtime setback in Ijamsville.
Westminster faces either Chesapeake of Anne Arundel or Mount Hebron on Monday at 5 p.m. at Broadneck High School.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Naill, who got emotional with her players when they clutched their latest piece of regional hardware. “I’m so proud of them. They needed something to prove from last year, and that’s what they wanted to do.”
Goals: U-Paige Bristow; W-Veronica Maring, Kirby Henneman, Eleni Tartaglia.
Assists: U-Maggie Goodwin; W-Arianna Babylon, Tartaglia.
Saves: U-4 (McKenna Ladson); W-3 (Lauren Jenne).