Carroll County’s girls lacrosse teams experienced some firsts last season, and 2019 should bring an equal amount of excitement.
Westminster defeated Mount Hebron 9-5 to win the Class 3A state championship, good for a program-first title. South Carroll captured its first county championship, and Century reached the state tournament for the 13th time.
Gerstell is paving its way in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland “A” Conference for the first time, a conference that includes powerhouses McDonogh and 2018 champion Notre Dame Prep. Liberty will have a new coach at the helm.
Former Manchester Valley standout Tayler Warehime, the reigning Times Player of the Year, graduated, but Carroll returns 11 athletes from last year’s first team this spring.
Here are three things to watch for the 2019 season:
Westminster is eyeing a potential state championship repeat
Westminster’s motto last season was “Purpose,” coach Jackie Stevens said after the Owls captured the 3A state championship.
That purpose drove the Owls to get past nemesis Bel Air, a team that ended Westminster’s season in a regional final before winning a state title in 2017. The Bobcats won that game in overtime, but the Owls exacted their own overtime revenge in 2018.
Bel Air and Westminster met in a 3A state semifinal at Mount Hebron High School, and the Owls prevailed in OT thanks a goal from Erin Anderson. The Owls advanced to their fifth state title appearance and first since 2012 the following week and defeated Hebron 9-5 to capture the state title.
Seniors Haleigh Moore and Anna Ruby are back from last year’s all-county first team. Ruby, a midfielder, led the Owls with 59 goals and added 13 assists. Moore anchored the team’s defense, won 51 draw controls and scooped up 11 loose balls.
Sara Tyssowski, a senior, was the Owls’ voice in goal last year and she returns, along with midfielders Hannah Dintino and Lauren Saltz and junior attacker Chloe Sedlar.
“We are looking forward to another successful season,” Stevens said via email. “We have some very talented key returners and look forward to our new players to fill in our key losses.”
Southern Carroll’s teams can share a stronghold within the county
Century has 13 appearances in the state tournament, with eight state championships. In 2017, the Knights captured their fifth state title in nine seasons with a 13-5 victory over Fallston.
The Knights won the 2A West regional title to advance to the state semifinals, but fell to Hereford 15-4. The Bulls went on to win the 2A state championship.
Century fields a stacked roster with a plethora of talent of three seniors, 11 juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen. Juniors Christina Haspert, Grace Bruce, Kaitlyn Huber and sophomore Demma Hall return from the Times all-county first team. Haspert was second in the county with 80 points (55 goals, 25 assists) last season.
The Knights are still waiting to see who will step up in goal, but coach Becky Groves said the girls are looking forward to building on their foundation set from last season.
South Carroll, the reigning Carroll County Athletic League champions, resides less than four miles from Century along Md. 26. It took a double-overtime win at Westminster for the Cavaliers to capture their first county title in program history. SC also defeated Century for the first time, but the Knights got past the Cavs in the first round of the 2A West playoffs, however, ending the team’s playoff hopes earlier than expected.
The Cavs had four athletes on the all-county first team last season and all four return to the playing field — juniors Paiton Abbott and Julia Weiss, and seniors Abbey Behn and Riley Evans.
Behn led the county with 42 assists last season and was third in Carroll with 80 points.
Liberty is making a transition with new coach Tom Brandel
The Lions will have a new coach in Tom Brandel this season, the team’s third in four seasons.
Brandel spent two seasons at Marriotts Ridge, where he coached the Mustangs’ junior varsity team. He has nearly 20 years of experience coaching boys lacrosse at the recreational, club, high school, and collegiate levels.
Brandel takes over for Taylor Cassatt, who carried the Lions to the 2A state tournament in 2017. The Lions suffered an early playoff exit at the hands of Winters Mill in 2018, but bring back a solid group of players who should make an impact. Look for midfielders Heidi Ellis and Alanna Wray to lead the Lions as captains this year. Wray paced the team with 34 goals and seven assists as a sophomore and Ellis compiled 27 goals and eight assists as a junior.
Brandel said via email that there are three players competing for the starting job in goal — senior Hannah Shraeder, junior Shannon Eissle and sophomore Emma Spaulding.
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“We are in the process of changing the culture of our team and we are just striving to get a little bit better each day at practice,” Brandel said via email.