The Westminster team played like it had something to prove at North Carroll yesterday.
The inspired Owls defeated the No. 4 Panthers, 2-1, in a battle between the two Carroll County field hockey powers.
The win gave Westminster the lead in the county race with a 2-0-1 record. North Carroll's county record dropped to 4-1.
"It's great to be back," said Westminster's Lauren Poe, who scored the eventual game-winner. "This is where Westminster field hockey is supposed to be."
The Owls' Shannon Mills, who was part of a defense that allowed only 10 North Carroll shots, agreed with Poe on the game's importance.
"This is the game we've been waiting for all season. To beat [North Carroll] is awesome. We just feel great right now," said Mills.
"We were pumped up for this game," added the Owls' Shannon Finch, who also played in the back. "We knew how important this game would be and we proved we could do it."
Westminster (6-1-1 overall) jumped on the Panthers defense in the first half with a relentless attack that outshot North Carroll 10-2 over the first 30 minutes. Laura Yingling scored the first goal for Westminster 12: 35 into the first half despite a tremendous effort by Panthers goalie Devan Bosley.
Bosley, who finished with 13 saves, consistently knocked away passes and shots from directly in front of the goal. At times, she appeared to be the only Panthers defender on the field.
"[Bosley] made save upon save and came up big," said North Carroll coach Denean Koontz. "She hadn't seen that much pressure this season but she handled it."
Westminster increased its lead to 2-0 early in the second half. Lydia Eppig, who assisted on both Owls goals, found Poe unguarded inches in front of the Panthers' goal. Poe slammed the shot past Bosley with 4: 20 gone.
The Panthers' (7-2 overall) offense never got on track. Misty MacMillian got North Carroll's only score with 21 minutes left in the game. Her team didn't threaten again until the last minutes.
The Panthers had the ball in the Westminster circle for the final two minutes but failed to get off a shot.
"We were going to do anything not to let them score," Mills said. "We were doing everything to get the ball out of the circle."
Coach Koontz blamed the loss on her team's slow start. "We got off slow and anytime you get down 2-0 its going to be tough [to win]," Koontz said. "But we battled back."
Owls coach Brenda Baker credited the win to a total team effort.
"We had solid team play," Baker said. "We had good passing, good defense and good offense. Everything really meshed together well for us."
Koontz said her team couldn't keep up with Westminster.
"[The Owls] were much quicker than us today all over the field," Koontz said. "They just beat us to the ball."