It will be a family affair when Westminster’s field hockey team takes the field at Broadneck High School on Monday at 5 p.m. for the Class 3A state semifinals.
The Owls consider themselves close, of course, and with three months worth of practices and off-the-field get-togethers the bonds are usually tight by November. But Westminster carries a union stronger than that going into the state tournament.
First-year coach Laurie Naill, a former field hockey player for the Owls, will be leading the team against Chesapeake of Anne Arundel County — and coaching her daughter, Haleigh Moore.
Westminster (13-3) is back in the final four for the 27th time, which is tied for the second most in Maryland history. The Owls need to dispatch the Cougars (10-6) to get a shot at capturing their program’s 10th state championship.
Two more wins would certainly cap an emotional season for Naill.
“It’s been bittersweet, because my mom passed away in August,” said Naill, a 1993 Westminster High graduate. “She never missed any of my field hockey games in high school or college, and never missed any of Haleigh’s games. So [coaching] now has just kind of been bittersweet, but it’s been fun.”
The Times shadowed Westminster senior Anna Ruby as she went through a day of physical therapy to rehabilitate a torn Achilles tendon, an injury she suffered in the girls lacrosse state championship game in May 2018.
Naill coached at Winters Mill from 2012-15, and coached against Moore during that span. Missing most of her daughter’s high school games was a challenge, Naill said, and when the Westminster job became open after last season she didn’t want to pass up the opportunity.
“It has been awesome,” Naill said. “We have such a good team that just jells together and they love being around each other, so that helps too. It has been a fun season.”
Moore has been the Owls’ catalyst. She’s second in the county in scoring with 45 points, and leads Carroll with 17 assists. Opposing defenses pay close attention when Moore has the ball, which tends to free up Westminster’s other potent scoring threats in and around the circle.
Kirby Henneman, a sophomore, leads the county with 22 goals and 53 points. Veronica Maring, a senior and the reigning Times Player of the Year, has 30 points (13 goals, four assists). Junior Eleni Tartaglia has 29 points (10, nine), and she had a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win over Urbana last Wednesday in the 3A West Region final.
Moore might be the team leader on and off the field, too. But Naill said most of the time the mother-daughter relationship remains off the field.
“Every once in a while it will be like, ‘Mom, I mean Laurie, I mean Coach!’” Naill said “She knows when we’re out there, I’m the coach and not her mom. I’ve never had any problem coaching her in that aspect.”
Westminster is facing a Chesapeake team that clipped Mount Hebron 2-1 last week in the 3A East final. The Cougars outscored their three regional playoff foes by a combined 13-1.
Chesapeake trailed 1-0 in that regional final before coming back late — something of which Naill said Westminster is well aware.
“Chesapeake is a good team, they’re a good second-half team,” Naill said. “Sometimes in the second half we come out flat. We just need to make sure that we keep out momentum up right from the get-go and carry it over throughout the whole game.”