Owls fall, 2-1, fail to clinch county title


The 1994 Carroll County field hockey championship will be remembered as the one nobody seemed to want to win.

Eighth-ranked Westminster became the latest victim of the "clinching jinx" last night, falling to 14th-ranked Liberty, 2-1, in the county's latest upset.

The Owls needed only a win or a tie to wrap up the county title and were 2:25 away from a 1-1 tie with the Lions when junior defenseman Jessica Horneman scored off a pass from Megan Renehan on a penalty corner.

Horneman's shot traveled through a maze of Westminster defenders into the cage, giving Liberty a 2-1 lead and putting the pressure on the Owls to score in the final minutes.

Westminster (7-3 overall and a final county mark of 3-2) had an opportunity to tie the game at 2 with 35 seconds left when the Owls got the ball to senior forward Kristy Matthai 10 yards from the cage.

But Matthai couldn't turn and shoot because three Liberty defenders converged on her, ending any last-ditch heroics by Westminster's leading scorer (12 goals and three assists).

The Westminster loss gives No. 10 North Carroll (7-2, 4-2) a second chance to clinch the county title Thursday when the Panthers entertain Liberty (6-3, 2-3) at 7 p.m.

North Carroll could have ended the title chase nine days ago by beating Westminster at North Carroll. The Owls won that game, 2-0, to keep their hopes alive.

Now Westminster could still win it if Liberty pulls off another upset Thursday.

Because all five county schools do not play the same number of county games, the champion is determined by the best winning percentage. North Carroll would fall to a final 4-3 record with a loss (.571 percentage) and Westminster is finished at 3-2 (.600).

The Horneman goal came less than a minute after the Lions had a score by Jeannie Rainey disallowed by an offside call.

Liberty coach Courtney Vaughn said she called a timeout to discuss the call with the officials, and during that timeout she changed the team's strategy on shots off penalty corners.

"We had been going to Amy [North] all day out on top on our corners and it hadn't been working," said Vaughn.

"So the kids all said they wanted us to go low [to Horneman] and see if that might work. We're always flexible to change here. I mean, our percentage of goals on corners has been terrible all season, so any change was welcome."

Liberty gained an early 1-0 lead on a Danielle Gray score off an assist by North just 2:17 into the game.

Westminster got even at 1 on Matthai's goal amid a crowd of Liberty defenders at the 16-minute mark of the first half. Ann Brennan was credited with an assist on the Owls' goal.

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