If offense wins games and defense wins championships, it took both for Marriotts Ridge to beat Century, 8-7, in the Class 3A/2A South Section I final on Monday.
The Mustangs' defense kept the game close until the offense settled down and went to work.
"My defense played rock solid the first half. We were lucky the score at half was 4-2," said Marriotts Ridge coach Amanda Brady.
Century, which had beaten county champion Mt. Hebron, in overtime in the previous game forged a 7-3 lead midway through the second half. Then the momentum of the game shifted.
Maddie Courtney checked the ball away to create a Century turnover and that seemed to spark Marriotts Ridge.
"We started winning the draw again, we had movement on attack and we started playing as a team. That's when the goals started coming," said Marriotts Ridge's Taylor Hensh.
"They literally got four or five draw controls in a row and we couldn't make a stop," said Century coach Becky Groves.
"(Taylor Hensh) took over the game. She was scoring goals and she was getting the ball. It didn't matter where the ball was, she was there," Groves said. "I felt like they had the best player on the field and when you have the best player on the field, you usually win."
Hensh had five goals in the game, including a free position shot that put the Mustangs ahead, 8-7, with just over 5 minutes left to play.
Hensh came up with the next draw and her team tried to run down the clock. The Mustangs took a free position shot that Century goalie Catie Pluta (five saves) stopped. The Knights were trying to tie the game when Alexis Zadjura made a very timely interception.
"There wasn't much time left so I figured I had to try for the interception," Zadjura said.
The Mustangs went into their spread offense again, but a bad pass gave Century yet another chance.
In the final 40 seconds of the game, Century had two 8-meter free position shots and an additional shot at goal. The Marriotts Ridge defense was up for the challenge. Goalie Rachel Ortell made a save on one shot, the defense forced another shot high and the third was wide of its mark.
"Rachel played awesome," Zadjura said. "We knew that this year the officials were being very strict in calling fouls in the 8 (meter area). We have been practicing 8-meter shots a lot and I think that helped us."
"When we needed Rachel the most, she made huge saves," Brady said.
Almost all of Century's goals came on 8-meter free position shots.
Earlier in the game Ortell (seven saves) left the goal circle to make some interceptions.
Marriotts Ridge will host River Hill, an 8-6 winner over Atholton, Wednesday evening for the 3A/2A South Region title.
Marriotts Ridge 8, Century 7
Goals: MR — Taylor Hensh 5, Lexi Souder 2, Jenna Kerr. C — Sky Hyatt 2, Hannah Warther 2, Davis 2, Madi Hall.
Assists: MR — Jenna Kerr, Marissa Davey, Alexis Zadjura. C — none.
Saves: MR — Rachel Ortell 7. C — Catie Pluta 5.
Halftime: Century, 4-2.
River Hill 8, Atholton 6
Reservoir now knows the way to Tuscarora High School. The Gators drove out to the Frederick County School on Saturday only to endure a lightning and rain delay that caused their Class 4A/3A North game to be postponed until Monday.
From a Reservoir perspective, the rescheduled game didn't have the best of starts.
"We got in a 7-1 hole in the first 10 minutes. We had a great comeback, but we didn't do enough," said Reservoir coach Katie Lee after her team lost, 16-13.
Tuscarora's center, Caitlin Miller, made it difficult for the Gators.
"She can self draw and self draw to different places. She can place the ball on the circle and she understands when to lose the ball and let the other girl win it," Lee said.
Reservoir trailed, 7-5, at the half.
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"I'm very happy with the push that we made as a comeback. Our intensity and effort were there but we couldn't get out of the hole," Lee said. "The seniors have left a legacy on the program and the juniors are looking forward to picking up where they left off."
Tuesday, Howard will play at Tuscarora for the sectional championship.
Tuscarora 16, Reservoir 13
Goals: T — Kenna Gabbler 5, Caitlin Miller 4, Jenna McDonald 3, Brianna Miller 3, Amy Joy. Re — Leah Monroe 4, Alex Sadzewicz 3, Michelle Armstrong 3, Haley Tiller 2, Connie Chung.
Assists: T — Jenna McDonald 3, Brianna Miller 3, Kenna Gabbler, Kara Phaubrith. Re — Leah Monroe, Haley Tiller, Alex Sadzewicz, Alexis Bartley.
Saves: T — name not available 3. Re — Brianna Weinman 8.
Halftime: Tuscarora, 7-5.