South Carroll one game away from perfect ending Cavs jolt Mustangs; Severna Park next


If the South Carroll girls lacrosse team wins Wednesday against unbeaten and three-time defending champion Severna Park in the state Class 3A-4A championship game, somebody just might make a movie about this incredible story.

At the start of the season, South Carroll had no goalie, had lost its top two scorers from last year and was expected to finish third or fourth in Carroll County.

Becoming the first girls lacrosse team from Carroll County to make it to the state tournament would have been considered a dream.

And a few games into the season, things went from bad tworse.

The Cavaliers lost two senior starters -- top defender HilarGriffith and defender Alicia Sievert -- for the season with knee injuries and a third player left because of academic problems.

Not even bright young coach Stacy Stem could rescue this bunch, right?

Eleventh-ranked C. Milton Wright would love to believe that today.

But the 14-1 Mustangs from Bel Air know better.

They had to stand by Saturday night at Catonsville Community College and watch Stem and her players celebrate after a 15-14 upset.

The Mustangs marched unbeaten into the state 3A-4A semifinals and came up one goal short in an exciting duel for the right to meet Severna Park for the state title.

C. Milton Wright, with senior midfielder Julie Jakum and senior attacker Sara Pokrywka leading the way, tried time after time to hand the Cavaliers a knockout punch with a flurry of goals.

But South Carroll kept picking itself up off the turf and won the gameon senior attacker Candice Blanchette's whirling back-handed shot into the net with 1 minute, 35 seconds left.

Allison Cain led the Cavaliers with five goals, Tracie DiDio had four goals and one assist and Patti Duffy and Blanchette each scored two goals.

Thirty seconds after Blanchette gave the Cavaliers the 15-14 lead, C. Milton Wright's comeback hopes were --ed when Jakum, who had scored four goals and controlled the ball most of the game for the Mustangs, was given a second yellow card for an automatic ejection.

"Without Julie, we were hurting," said C. Milton Wright defender Willow Waldrop. "We didn't play well in the second half. We lost our concentration and just didn't play as well as usual."

Stem said a controversial C. Milton Wright goal by Pokrywka, that gave the Mustangs an 11-9 lead with 13:50 left, helped South Carroll played like a team on a mission down the stretch.

"With our team, we need to be like abused, or have something to get us fired up," said Stem, who watched the Cavaliers score four goals for a 13-11 advantage. "Our players got mad when the officials called that goal good after a conference. When I asked for a reason why, one official said he couldn't see the ball in the net, but he heard it hit the net and seen our goalkeeper [Erin Nauyalis] pulling the ball out of the net. We felt the ball never

went in the goal."

The South Carroll coach said she was nervous the whole game, but always felt her team would come back.

When asked if this was her greatest coaching victory, Stem said:

"It's getting close to our state field hockey championship game win over Bethesda Chevy Chase [1991 in the 3A final]. Yes, I'd say it's the same as that victory [BCC was unbeaten and had not allowed a goal all season before losing, 1-0, to the Cavaliers]."

It also got a big monkey off the Cavaliers' back, the coach said.

"I'm tired of always hearing that we have no talent and we get by on our aggressive play," Stem said. "No one else [in Carroll County] has ever been here before. We never gave up."

DiDio said: "We played with our heart. It feels great to beat an unbeaten team. Now we're going to McDonald's to celebrate and then get ready for Severna Park. We want to beat two unbeaten teams."

ADuring the four-goal, three-minute run to a 13-11 lead, DiDio was superb.

She scored two goals and picked the ball out of a crowd of players in front of the goal and shoveled it to Duffy for another score.

Duffy had the other two goals in the four-goal stretch.

"Patti and I work well together," said DiDio of the two players who have been through a lot of pressure situations in their field hockey and lacrosse careers at South Carroll.

The quick and determined DiDio had the ball in her stick in the final minute, running the time off the clock against the Mustangs, who tried to get one last possession in an attempt to tie it.

They couldn't catch up to DiDio for more than 30 seconds and did not get another decent chance to score.

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