What a difference a year makes -- but not quite enough difference for Loch Raven's No. 2 girls lacrosse team.
After playing scared against No. 1 Mount Hebron last year in the Class 1A-2A state title game, the Raiders came out challenging the Vikings yesterday. But the Raiders rushed too many shots and forced too many passes to knock the Vikings from their lofty pedestal.
Howard County champion Mount Hebron (18-0) took a 9-7 victory for its second consecutive Class 1A-2A championship and second straight unbeaten season.
The Raiders (17-1) started preparing for Mount Hebron three months ago, but yesterday they couldn't put together the whole package needed to upset the Vikings.
Although they played excellent defense against the Vikings' high-scoring homes Cathy Nelson and Lori Pasquantonio, the Raiders couldn't get their offense rolling. Too often they missed the connections in the midfield, upsetting their usually fluid transition game.
"The defense started bringing the ball out and we threw it away or the attack didn't catch the ball and it came right back down our throats," said Raiders coach Wendy Galinn.
The Raiders controlled the first four draws of the game but found themselves down 4-0.
Defenders Christina Bhanos and Robyn Disney did a good job preventing Nelson and Pasquantonio from rolling the crease. Bhanos took an early charge from Pasquantonio and also blocked a shot.
The few defensive mistakes, however, were costly. Nelson scored the first two goals on free-position shots caused by Loch Raven shooting-space fouls.
"We pretty much knew how they played and they liked to go one-on-one," said Disney. "Hardly ever did they beat us [rolling around the crease]. Most of their shots were free shots, because we made too many errors like shooting space."
Nelson added another goal coming around and diving past Raiders point Alison Jones. Amy Fine made it 4-0, capping an interception by running half the field to score.
The Raiders finally got on the board when Jones hit Lauren Volk with a pass out of the defensive end. Volk ran in to slip a bounced shot past Vikings keeper Ali True.
The rest of the half the Raiders answered each Mount Hebron goal to stay within 6-3 at halftime. Robyn Harry scored on a low scoop shot, and Michele DeJuliis also put a nice back-handed effort past True.
In the second half, the Raiders pulled within two when Shelley Klaes fed Heather Kormanik, who popped the ball over the charging True's head.
After that, however, the Raiders' offense struggled with more forced passes and rushed shots.
Although the Raiders outshot the Vikings 22-9 in the half, they couldn't get closer than two. True made 14 saves, including a couple of nice stops against free-position shots. She finished with 18 saves.
"She stuffed us," said Galinn. "I give her a lot of credit, but I also attribute it to poor shot selection."
Klaes scored two goals -- one on a free position and another rolling the crease -- to keep the Raiders within 9-6 with 8:25 left in the game.
By then, a couple more defensive errors had cost the Raiders two more goals.
"I think we panicked to a point," said Galinn. "We were much more prepared for this game than we were last year. Last year, I said before the game I knew we weren't going to do well, but this year, the kids played with a lot of heart. They never gave up."