Westminster’s boys and girls lacrosse teams have spent the better part of this century trying to establish themselves as perennial state championship contenders.
Now the Owls get a chance to do it together.
The state championship games conclude Thursday evening at Stevenson University, with the Class 3A contests at 6 and 8. Westminster’s girls are up first against Mount Hebron, followed by the boys taking on Northern-Calvert.
Owls coach Jackie Stevens said it’s exciting her girls team has an opportunity to claim the program’s first state title on the same day the boys go after their second. After nine previous state tournament appearances beginning in 2004, four of which ended with losses in the final, Stevens is hoping this is Westminster’s time.
“Our motto all along has been basically talking about just buying into it,” Stevens said. “Buying into the fact that we are a talented team and we trust each other. I think a lot of it is just believing. … When they started trusting in each other and believing in each other, they’re just unstoppable.”
Westminster (16-2) rides a four-game winning streak into the state final, having beaten Bel Air 10-9 in overtime in the semifinals last Saturday. The Owls have made it this far with balance, Stevens said.
Junior midfielder Anna Ruby leads the way with 56 goals and 13 assists. The junior also has 103 draw controls, 25 ground balls, and 24 caused turnovers. Ruby gets help from senior attacker and four-year starter Madi Macera (43 goals, eight assists), sophomore attacker Chloe Sedlar (28, 27), and junior midfielder Hannah Dintino (35, 17).
Senior Chloe Sankovich and junior Haleigh Moore anchor the defense, along with junior goalie Sara Tyssowski — the Owls held their ground when Bel Air set up for a free-position attempt in the final seconds of regulation Saturday, preserving the 9-9 tie and forcing OT before Erin Anderson’s goal won it — and the unit is allowing 5.5 goals per game in the playoffs.
“We’re still on that high from that win,” Stevens said about beating the Bobcats, who won the 4A-3A state title last spring. “We know how it felt last year … it was nice to able to come out on top.”
Westminster looks to clamp down on Hebron (13-5), back in the state tournament for the 21st time and looking for a 14th championship. The Vikings are the most decorated girls program in Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association history, but they haven’t won since 2007.
Carroll has its share of girls lacrosse state titles — 15 to be exact — but only twice has a boys county team ended its season with a championship. In both cases, the Carroll team finished off an unbeaten season.
Winters Mill won the first one in 2007. Westminster did it in 2013, after falling short in the finals the year before.
The Owls are back in the final four for a second consecutive season, having lost to Churchill in the 4A-3A semifinals in 2017. Westminster coach Steve DeFeo said that defeat has fueled his squad all year long.
“The guys are definitely prepared,” DeFeo said. “They’re excited about Thursday, they’re motivated to play. Last year kind of helped set the stage for this year. There’s a lot you can gain from being in that experience.”
The Owls (17-1) have won 17 games in a row after dropping their season opener against Mount St. Joseph. To get here, they’ve relied on a talented core — junior attackman Bubba Love has 79 points (57 goals, 22 assists), senior attackman Alec Kozlowski has 66 points (53, 13), and junior midfielder Christian Etchison also has 66 (33, 33).
Junior midfielder Chase Buckwalter (60 points), senior attackman Patrick Stewart (49), and sophomore midfielders Conner Covey (45) and Evan Park (20) also contribute.
They’ll likely need that balanced to battle Northern (18-1), which defeated Centennial 12-11 in the other 3A semifinal. The Patriots became the first team from the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference to claim a state championship when they won the 3A-2A title last year.
Senior Matt Banks, junior Noah Baugher, and junior Andrew Burns create the back line on Westminster’s defense, with sophomore goalie Logan Covey (187 saves, 63.0 percentage) behind them. Junior Jayden Hull helps out as a long-pole midfielder.
The unit is allowing 6.5 goals per game in the postseason, one that has a chance to end quite successfully for both lacrosse teams Thursday.
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“I think it’s really cool that we can have a Westminster Day, and evening, so to speak,” DeFeo said. “The kids are looking forward to it.”