Westminster deserved a better fate and South Carroll just had too much to overcome last Saturday in state field hockey championship games.
The Owls and Cavaliers went to Goucher College as defending state 4A and 3A champions, respectively, and were hoping to uphold the proud tradition of Carroll County high school field hockey.
The five Carroll schools have combined for 14 state titles in the 18-year history of the state field hockey tournament.
No other Maryland county can match that total. The closest is Anne Arundel, which has seven championships.
Despite its stellar history, Westminster and South Carroll lost in this year's title games.
Both schools had all the ingredients it takes to win a state championship game, including stick work, aggressive play, teamwork, good coaching, and good skills.
But Severna Park, 1-0 winners over Westminster for the state 4A title, and Bethesda Chevy Chase, 3-0 conquerors of South Carroll in the 3A championship game, both had one important edge over the Carroll schools: speed.
Also, Severna Park and BCC had wanted to avenge losses in last year's title games to Westminster and South Carroll, respectively.
Severna Park (15-1) got all its best scoring opportunities by using its speed.
Westminster was superior in the other phases of the game, outshooting the Falcons, 24-15 and having a 16-6 edge in penalty corners.
It just so happened that Owls' scoring star Tinah Houck (18 goals) could not hit the cage with her cannon-like shots. Houck, 5 feet 11, is thought to have the hardest shot in the state.
The Westminster star did put a shot in the goal with 8:55 left in the first half, but it was disallowed because the shot sailed too high into the net.
Westminster co-coach Sue Hooper agreed with the call and Houck didn't complain after the game.
If Houck's goal had counted, it would have given Westminster (13-3) a 1-0 lead and possibly resulted to a 1-1 tie and an overtime duel.
As it was, Colleen Gately gave the Falcons all they needed to win when she somehow managed to score from a crowd in front of the goal with 19:42 left in the game.
After four straight Severna Park shots had been saved by Westminster goalkeeper Sarah Martin, the ball became wedged between Owls' defender Laurie Moody's feet and Gately came crashing through the mass of people to shove the ball into the net.
"It was a lucky goal," said Gately. With that admission by Gately, and the 24 shots by Westminster that were squandered, it is more than enough to have the Owls replaying this game a long time and saying, "What if?"
For South Carroll coach Stacy Stem and her Cavaliers, it was a question of running into a brick defensive wall that had given up only two goals all season.
Bethesda Chevy Chase also had a highly skilled link in Sara Warlick, who demonstrated speed and deft stickwork by scoring a goal 3 minutes, 12 seconds after the start of the game.
Warlick took the ball about 20 yards from the goal and went through everybody for a 1-0 lead.
After that, the Cavaliers (8-3-5) had a tendency to stand around and watch the Barons (14-1) play.
South Carroll appeared to be playing not to lose instead of aggressively going for the win.
Of course, the Cavaliers might have had a reason for admiring the Barons so much.
Both Stem and North Carroll field hockey coach Denean Powelson said they felt BCC was the best team in the state this season, regardless of classification.