Riley Evans said she and her South Carroll girls lacrosse teammates entered the 2019 season believing they had what it took to win a Class 2A state championship.
The thought was pushed to the backs of their minds as they focused on playing their best during the regular season, but they returned as the playoffs approached. The Cavaliers drew a rematch with Century, the only team to defeat the Cavaliers in the regular season this spring.
The Knights won the same game last year to end the Cavs’ season much earlier than they would have liked, but SC answered with a 14-10 victory this time. Then, they defeated Winters Mill, Middletown, and Queen Anne’s to earn their first state final appearance since 1993, and the Cavs outlasted Hereford 10-9 in overtime at Paint Branch High School to capture the program’s first championship.
“It’s unbelievable honestly,” Evans said. “It’s just a crazy feeling because you think about it when you’re younger, of winning a state championship. You see other teams winning and that’s kind of the goal in high school, to get to the state championship. I think it’s even better that, as a senior, and for or four other seniors, it’s a really good feeling.
Evans scored four goals in the state final and scored four or more in 11 games for the Cavs this spring. She helped lead with 60 goals and seven assists and helped ignite the team’s offense by dominating with 85 draw controls en route to being named Times Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year.
She also collected 31 ground balls and caused 16 turnovers as a senior captain.
South Carroll coach Brigid Scanlon said Evans started every game dating back to her freshman season, and has been the team’s focal point on the draw since. Evans’ raw talent combined with the talented teammates surrounding her played a strong role in her improvement over the years.
“Being surrounded by some of the best players in the county and the state obviously is going to help anyone,” Scanlon said. “Even our JV team got better this year just from scrimmaging us. I think her knowing that not everything was up to her — she had her teammates around her, had five or six other girls who did score three or four goals in other games.
“It’s nice to know you can rely on everybody else and you really trust them. We talked a lot about trusting this year especially on our defense, but also on our offense. You have to trust each other.”
Evans said she has been playing lacrosse since she was in kindergarten, and quickly learned to love it. She also played basketball for the Cavaliers and said it was always her dad’s dream for her to grow up playing basketball. However, as Evans’ love for lacrosse grew, so did his.
Evans was one of five seniors on South Carroll’s state champion squad. Attackers Abbey Behn and Jenna McDermott, midfielders Mia MacKenzie and Shannon Finch, and Evans had all played with one another since they were freshmen.
“We knew we could be a good team because we already know how we play together,” Evans said. “I think that it kind of helps that this is our senior year and we all kind of knew going into it that we have a good chance of going to states and doing so well that I think we all stepped it up this year.”
That familiarity helped set up a fine finale for this year’s senior group.
South Carroll won seven straight games before falling to Century 16-6 on April 15 — but the Cavaliers didn’t lose again. They won nine in a row after the Century loss and concluded the year with a hefty piece of hardware for the trophy case.
Evans, who graduated from South Carroll on June 7, plans to attend St. Joseph’s University and play lacrosse.
“I’m really excited,” Evans said. “Their program is up-and-coming so I think in the next couple years, we can be really good. I’m excited to get out there and start playing again because this little break, I don’t like not playing so I can’t wait to get back into it.”