Francis Scott Key's first-year coach Mindi Wagner had heard all about the Eagles' past struggles against Pocomoke in state tournament play.
Yesterday afternoon, Wagner got a first-hand look as the top-seed Field hockey
Warriors beat Key, 1-0, in the Class 1A state semifinals at Goucher College.
"They [Pocomoke] were very impressive and I thought both teams played very well," Wagner said.
"It's my first year, but I knew about them. I gathered up some past newspapers and knew what we had to go up against."
It was the fourth straight year the Eagles' season came to an end against Pocomoke.
In the first, in 1989, the two teams shared the state title after battling to a 0-0 tie. Pocomoke has won the past three meetings -- all in semifinal-round play.
Jodi Byrd scored the game's only goal with 2:12 remaining in the first half.
It came off the Warriors' fifth penalty corner of the half. Byrd settled the ball just inside the circle and buried a shot past Key keeper Missy Muller.
Pocomoke (13-1) controlled play throughout the game, owning a 4-0 advantage in shots and a whopping 18-6 edge in penalty corners.
The closest Key came to scoring was a shot that went wide left by Joy Shandrowski with 8:30 left. It came after the Eagles had earned two straight penalty corners.
Midway through the half, Holly Talbert made a run down the right side that was stifled by a Pocomoke defender.
"They had a superb defense," Wagner said.
"They really stopped our flow, particularly on the right side. Anytime Crissy [Naurot] or Holly [Talbert] tried to move the ball, they were there to shut things off."
And when the Eagles needed to press for the tying goal late in the game, it was the Warriors who chewed up the clock on Key's side of the field.
"It was frustrating," said Wagner, who watched Pocomoke earn four straight penalty corners in the game's final moments.
"It was corner after corner after corner. It shows how well our defense played."
The Eagles closed out their season with a 6-7-2 record.
"We're happy," Wagner said. "We played a great game today, have a regional championship and a very young team back next year. It's been a successful season and we had a lot of fun together -- that's what it's all about."