Looking to avoid another game decided by penalty strokes, Westminster did the next best thing: score in regulation.
Sophomore forward Lydia Eppig's goal 1: 45 into the first half was all the 12th-ranked Owls would need to slip past visiting C. Milton Wright, 1-0, and capture the Class 4A North regional field hockey crown yesterday in Westminster.
Westminster improved to 11-2-1 and earned a berth in the state semifinals beginning Monday at Goucher College for the 10th time in 11 years.
The only time the Owls failed to make it to the state tournament was last season, when Chesapeake-AA upset them in the regional semifinals -- a disappointing moment that many players remembered yesterday.
"To not make it to states last year and to have high hopes this year, this win means a lot," said senior defender Lisa Cavanaugh. "We didn't go by our reputation. We knew that we had to work hard for this."
Eppig made sure Westminster did not repeat Wednesday's victory against Dulaney -- which was decided by penalty strokes -- when she blasted a shot past Mustangs sophomore goalie Lucia Michel (two saves) with 28: 15 left in the first half.
"We didn't want to have to go through that again," Eppig said of the win over Dulaney. "It's too stressful. We wanted to knock the first one in."
C. Milton Wright (7-5-2) had several chances to even the score. With seven minutes left in the first half, senior wing Melissa Prange sent a pass to sophomore forward Stacy McNamee, but she tapped the bouncing ball wide left of Owls sophomore goalie Emily Chamelin (three saves).
The Mustangs' best opportunities arrived near the end of the second half. Prange fed sophomore forward Kelly Duncan, who had a breakaway on Chamelin. But the goalkeeper rushed out of her net and kicked the ball away.
A scrum in front of Chamelin with seconds left on the clock led to three consecutive penalty corners, but C. Milton Wright could not convert them.
"It came really close to going in," said Chamelin. "They were kicking it around, and someone hit it up and it bounced off my helmet."
Mustangs coach Carla Harward said nerves might have affected her team, which had played on the Class 3A level until the school moved up this fall.
"We were kind of lackadaisical in the beginning because we had butterflies in our stomachs," Harward said. "But after we settled down and played our game, we had some opportunities. We just couldn't put them in."