Imagine this scene.
Defending state champion Westminster had just knocked off previously unbeaten LaPlata, 3-2, yesterday at Goucher College to set up a rematch of last year's state 4A field hockey championship game against Severna Park and no one was celebrating.
Instead, Owls scoring leader Tinah Houck called her team into a hud Field hockey
dle for a serious talk while co-coaches Sue Hooper and Brenda Baker stood silently in the background.
"I'm stunned we won," said Hooper of the semifinal victory. "Our players aren't celebrating because they know they didn't play well. That team outplayed us. We just dodged the bullet."
Baker added, "We had jitters the whole game."
Houck said: "I'm not happy with the way I played. We didn't work as a team, playing mostly as individuals the whole game." Senior sweeper Erin McKinney summed up the Westminster mood: "I feel relief that this game is over."
McKinney, halfback Sara Warner and goalkeeper Sarah Martin (seven saves) had to put on a valiant defensive stand in the final 10 minutes of the game to preserve the 3-2 lead after LaPlata sophomore standout Ashley Murphy scored her second goal of the day with 10 minutes left.
Murphy and Kelly Knode were relentless in their pursuit of the tying goal for LaPlata (11-1-2), weaving their way through the Owls (13-2) time after time for high-percentage shots and helping the Warriors keep the ball in the Westminster end of the field.
It seemed almost a given that LaPlata would find a way to tie the game and force sudden-death overtime.
But Houck, known mostly for her offense with 17 goals and two assists, came up with her best defensive play of the season with five seconds left.
Houck batted away a last-ditch effort by Murphy to put a shot on goal, and time ran out as the ball rolled harmlessly toward the sidelines.
First-year LaPlata coach Teresa Cisney said: "We played a wonderful game. The difference was that fluky first goal they scored [Anitha Naganna's goal 22 seconds into the game]. It should have been 2-2."
Naganna, who has joined Aurora Brown as an outstanding tournament player, bolted past the dazed Warriors on the opening play of the game and sent the ball in the cage off a pass from Jill Sisson for the lightning-quick 1-0 lead.
Cisney said: "I don't know what happened on that first goal. All I know is it was a fluke. We were pushing them at the end and controlling the game.
"Ashley Murphy has been a key player all year for us, and she's back for two more years. Also, Marie Saylor did a great job today."
But it's third-seeded Westminster that is going to the 4A title game Saturday at 2 p.m. at Goucher against top-seeded Severna Park.
The Owls defeated Severna Park, 1-0, last year in the 4A championship game, giving Westminster its fourth state title.
But Westminster has been upset over newspaper articles in Anne Arundel County that have insinuated that the Owls' victory over Severna Park was a fluke.
"We want Severna Park," said Houck.
Houck and Brown Westminster's other goals yesterday.
Carroll schools in state playoffs
Boys soccer State semifinals (1) Fallston vs. (4) F.S. Key at South Hagerstown, Friday, 7:30
Girls soccer State semifinals (1) Oakland Mills vs. (4) Liberty at South Carroll, Friday, 7:30
Dulaney vs. South Carroll (3) at Glen Burnie, Saturday, 5:30
State finals Westminster vs Severna Park at Goucher College, Saturday, 2
State semifinals (3) South Carroll vs (2) Kenwood at Goucher College, tomorrow,
State regional quarterfinals (4) Glenelg at (1) Liberty, today, 7
Allegany at (2) North Carroll, today, 6
Smithsburg at (2) Francis Scott Key, today, 7