Draw controls were a point of frustration for Century’s girls lacrosse team in its recent regional playoff game against Glenelg, one the Knights were able to win despite being outnumbered in that category.
Century found itself in the same predicament during Wednesday’s Class 2A state semifinal against Middletown. This time, the Knights couldn’t gather themselves with a trip to the championship game at stake.
The home team took control in the second half and wrestled away Century’s momentum en route to an 18-15 victory.
Middletown (12-0) won 13 of 16 draws in the second half and outscored the Knights 10-5 over the final 25 minutes. After scoring two goals in the final 10 seconds of the first half, Century (11-1) netted just two goals in over the next 17 minutes.
Middletown celebrated its first finals appearance while Century felt the sting of falling one win shy of going after a ninth state crown in school history.
“You can’t score goals if you don’t have the ball,” Knights coach Becky Groves said about her team’s struggle to maintain possessions. “And then it seemed like we kept putting them on the 8-meter. And then when they’re scoring goals and go back to the draw and then you can’t get the draw … you can’t win if you don’t have the ball.”
Century did enough to get past Glenelg 11-8 to win the 2A West Region 1 title, and held its own during the first half against Middletown. The Knights won 9 of 18 draws in the first half, and capped the first 25 minutes with goals from Anna Hackett and Caroline Little to grab a 10-8 lead at the break. Hackett scored with 10 seconds to go, and after a won draw Little raced down to score just as time expired.
Middletown had the answer, however. Isabella Ewine had four of her six goals in the second half, and feasted when she had the ball behind Century’s goal. Ewine darted around the far side of the crease and found a spot in the upper corner of the goal each time, with Century’s defense unable to stop it.
Middletown led 11-10 early in the second half and Groves called a timeout.
“I said, ‘We’re still in this,’ and they were like, ‘What do you mean we’re still in this? We’re down by one,’” Groves said. “That told me a lot about the demeanor we had on the field. … I think they felt like we as a team could not stop them, and we were kind of at a loss at what to do.”
Hackett kept Century close with six goals, and Demma Hall had three along with Jasmine Stanton. Hackett’s fifth goal came with 3:31 to play and cut the deficit to 17-14, and the Knights had two solid chances to score in the ensuing possession. But Middletown goalie Helen Bartman made point-blank saves (she finished with eight saves) to thwart the Knights’ comeback attempt.
Ellery Bowman had four goals for Middletown and Brynn Hoffman scored three. The home team also capitalized on a few Century yellow cards and scored five goals in extra-player situations. And Middletown converted six free-position goals.
Many of Century’s players were emotional following the loss, with the program’s expectations always set on winning championships. Hall leads a group of six graduated seniors, and Groves’ roster this spring included 11 juniors, six sophomores, and six freshmen. The Knights will have to wait another eight months to regroup and try again.
“Honestly, we lost to a good team,” said Groves, with emotion in her voice. “I think some people look at Frederick County and they’re like, ‘Oh well they’re not that great.’ And I tried to tell people coming into this game, ‘I don’t think you understand. They’re good this year. We’re really going to have to work for this win.’”
Goals: C-Anna Hackett 6, Demma Hall 3, Jasmine Stanton 3, Caroline Little 2, Madison Plitt: M-Isabella Ewine 6, Ellery Bowman 4, Brynn Hoffman 3, Julia Harris 3, Bailey Broadbent, Isabella Dos Santos
Assists: C-Hackett, Hall; M-Alyssa Daley, Harris, Broadbent, Vera Winchester Dodman, Bowman
Saves: C-5 (Jenelle Balchun 3, Emma Zepp 2); M-8 (Helen Bartman)
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Halftime: Century, 10-8