The No. 5-ranked Annapolis girls lacrosse team, which had lost the past two county championships to Severna Park, rallied from a four-goal deficit to surge past those same Falcons, 11-7, and win the Anne Arundel County title last night at Southern High in Harwood.
In the past two county title games, Severna Park avenged regular-season losses by upending the Panthers in the finale. Last night, Annapolis (14-1) - which won the regular-season meeting, 8-7 - halted that streak by capturing its first county crown since 1998.
"To go through the season and win every game and not get the county championship, that breaks your heart," said Panthers midfielder Kristy Dirks. "To win it this year and coming back makes it feel so good."
The comeback was a significant story line last night. The sixth-ranked Falcons sprinted out at the start of the game, building a 5-1 lead around goals from midfielder Nicki Barnes, defender Meg Boyd, Barnes again, midfielder Laura Anderson and defender Lindsey Stover.
Annapolis, which tallied three of the final four goals to cut the Severna Park lead to two by halftime, busted through in the second half.
Powered by the All-Metro trio of attacker Sarah Oliphant (four goals and four assists), midfielder Acacia Walker (a hat trick) and Dirks (two goals), the Panthers scored six unanswered goals to take a 10-6 advantage with 10:52 left in the game.
Even after attacker Kristen Burke converted a free-position attempt to draw the Falcons within three with 7:30 left, Oliphant clinched the win by alley-ooping a pass to attacker Lexie Elliott (two goals) for the final score.
"For the first time this season, we were a second-half team," Oliphant said. "If our intensity was at 3 in the first half, it was at 9 in the second half. We knew what we had to do."
Goalie Cammie Jurkowsky turned away seven Severna Park shots, and a staunch defense of midfielders Ashley Kopack, Dirks and Walker and defenders Laura Barnes, Kate Lipka, Christine Palowitch and Caryn Lean kept traffic away from the net.
The Falcons dropped to 12-2, but could meet Annapolis in the Class 4A-3A East region final.
To do so, Severna Park coach Carin Peterson said her team would have to rectify losing six of eight draws in the second half.
"We got off our game plan," Peterson said. "We needed to get draws, we needed to get ground balls, we needed to get possession of the ball. Possession was a big deal in the second half, and we didn't get the job done."