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Bel Air field hockey falls, 2-1, to Westminster in state semifinal

Westminster's Tarlow Mackenzie and Bel Air's Anna Farley battle for the ball.
Westminster's Tarlow Mackenzie and Bel Air's Anna Farley battle for the ball. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

ANNAPOLIS — Bel Air's quest to win its first field hockey state championship in more than three decades will have to wait another year.

The Bobcats tangled with Westminster, one of Maryland's perennial powers, in Wednesday's Class 3A state semifinal at Broadneck High School. They endured an early second-half deficit and rallied to tie the game, only to give up the game-winner with less than five minutes to go in a 2-1 defeat.

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But Bel Air didn't go quietly.

"I'm proud of my girls. They fought up until the very, very, very last second," first-year coach Emily Zorbach said. "It was a tough loss, but I'd say they've rolled with the punches well this entire season."

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Bel Air (11-5) trailed, 1-0, midway through the second half after senior forward Tori McDonald knocked in a penalty-corner pass from fellow senior Mackenzie Tarlow. But the Bobcats struck with 11 minutes to go, thanks to a penalty-corner goal from sophomore midfielder Anna Farley.

Bel Air lifted its play after the tying score, and Zorbach said she felt the change.

"This team has been collectively a team that can force positive energy," Zorbach said.

The Bobcats went down again, this time with 4:38 to go, when Owls junior forward Emily Bennett knocked in a pass from senior Sophia DeFeo. But they had an offensive surge in the final minutes, and found themselves with an 11-on-9 advantage because two Westminster players had to leave the field after receiving yellow cards.

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The Owls staved off the charge, however, even with Bel Air setting up a penalty corner in the final minute.

"It was unfortunate. We had our momentum going, we were capitalizing off those last-minute cards," Zorbach said.

The momentum faded, and the Bobcats were denied a trip to Washington College on Saturday for the state championship game.

The Bobcats were looking for their first state final berth since 1977, which was the year they claimed their program's lone title. Bel Air has eight semifinal appearances, but hadn't been there since 1994 before Wednesday's game.

Farley provided the offense, and senior goalie Morgan Domanico kept her team in the game with eight saves.

But it wasn't enough, and Bel Air will try again next season having to replace 13 seniors from this year's team.

"We were a team that no one was giving a second look to back in August," Zorbach said. "And to make it all the way here, it has been a very awesome ride. And it's very [proud] moment as a coach even though we're not walking into a Saturday final game."

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