The No. 1 Westminster Owls never let Paint Branch breathe in their MPSSAA Class 4A state semifinal at Broadneck on Monday night. Playing smothering defense, the Owls scored their 12th shutout of the season and won, 4-0.
Owl Meghan Macera scored three goals and her teammate Nicole Hodiak scored the other. The defense, led by Michelle Hodiak, Kara Evans and Carlyn Thompson, allowed Paint Branch just two shots and midfielders Jordan Wilkins, Melanie Solomon and Lindasy Nichols kept the ball moving between the defense and the attack.
"We dominated," said Macera, a sophomore. "But this year we've been working so hard. We really wanted to make it to the finals - especially after last year."
Last year the Owls lost their semifinal in overtime, 1-0, to Quince Orchard, which was routed by Severna Park in the title game. Owls coach Mary Rivera was pleased and perhaps a little relieved to see her team put this game away early.
"We've lost in this round the last two years," she said. "This year, they've been working hard. It started at the Roland Park tournament at the start of the season and it hasn't stopped."
Now, the Owls will face No. 3 Severna Park, the four-time defending champion. It is a daunting task, but Rivera and the Owls don't seem shaken.
"Every team is beatable," Rivera said. "Severna Park never gives up. I feel our team has that same strength. And I know we can score on anyone's defense."
She also knows not everyone can score on the Owls.
No. 2 Centennial 3, Atholton 0:: The Eagles (15-0) defeated the visiting Raiders (4-10) 3-0 in a Class 3A East quarterfinal match.
No. 4 Severna Park 3, North County 0:: Right side hitter Christi Laite paced the Falcons (15-2) with 9 kills, 3 digs and 4 blocks in a Class 4A East quarterfinal with a 25-11, 25-12 and 25-10 victory over the visiting Knights (3-9). Outside hitter Samantha Henke contributed 3 kills and 6 digs.
No. 5 Broadneck 3, Arundel 1:: Senior center Shelby Greene had 6 kills, 18 assists, 9 digs and 2 blocks as the host Bruins (11-1) defeated the Wildcats (10-4) in a Class 4A East quarterfinal. Also, middle hitter Katie Shorter recorded 6 kills and 3 blocks, and Outside Hitter Kourtney Salvarola had 11 kills and 11 digs.
No. 7 Fallston 3, Bel Air 0:: The Cougars improved their record to 16-1 with a Round 2 win over the Bobcats (6-12), 25-16, 25-8 and 25-15, in a Class 2A East quarterfinal. The middle blocking duo of Maddie Ford and Lindsay Garnett controlled the net with numerous deflections and combined for 8 kills. Other top performers were Erika Schmidt with 25 assists, and Rachael Holehouse with 14 kills and 15 service points.