Aggressive. Steady. Confident. Stingy.
Those were the words the No. 11-ranked Westminster field hockey team used to describe a defense that led the Owls to the Central Maryland Conference title yesterday with a 2-0 win over host South Carroll.
The Westminster defense, which has allowed only five goals this season, recorded its sixth shutout.
"[The defense] makes us more confident to go after the ball because we know there will always be someone there to back us up," said Lauren Magee, who scored the Owls' first goal of the game.
"The defense lets us be more aggressive and offensive," said Westminster coach Brenda Baker, who is attempting to win her fifth state title in her 17-year career with the Owls. She said the defense provides the team with leadership by example.
"Their work ethic is so strong. They don't give up a lot of shots or goals," Baker said. "They just don't give up, period."
Shannon Mills is one of the leaders of the defense, which includes fellow seniors Lisa Cavanaugh, Lauren Reese and goalie JoAnnah Jennings and sophomore Shannan Finch.
"We work together so well and we always back each other up," Mills said.
"We try to go out there and jump all over the other team."
The Owls (9-1-1) got the only goal they would need on the Magee shot 6: 45 into the game.
Magee fired the ball toward the South Carroll (5-5) net and the ball deflected off a Cavaliers player and into the goal.
Westminster's second goal came officially with two seconds left in the first half. Lindsay Bream seemed to score after the whistle sounded, but the officials deemed that it counted.
The Owls avoided a possible letdown after defeating their main county rival, North Carroll 1-0, Monday. They also had goalkeeper Emily Chamelin as their starter in the place of an ineligible Jennings.
"There was a big worry of a letdown today," Baker said. "We were concerned."
The win was a sign to Baker that her team has considerable mental toughness.
"That's a characteristic of our program. It's a positive reflection on what we preach here," the coach said.
Baker said this team has the same characteristics as her other successful teams.
"They're similar to some other teams because they share the same work ethic and attitude and they work hard to improve game to game," she said.
Magee said her team is particularly excited over its postseason chances.
" Everyone is ready for the playoffs," Magee said. "We know we're going to do really well."