CHESTERTOWN — It was a year ago at Washington College, the C. Milton Wright field hockey team felt the disappointment of a Class 3A state championship loss to Chesapeake-Anne Arundel.
Saturday, the two met again for that same 3A crown, but this time the Mustangs got the better of it and defeated Chesapeake, 3-0. It is CMW’s second state championship in six seasons, having won the school’s first in 2013.
“This feels really good, especially after last year,” Mustangs coach Kelly Mattingly said. “They came out strong and they came out ready to play. They’ve been wanting this for a long time now.”
Forwards Samantha Aljets and Arrianna May notched the three goals for the Mustangs (17-1), who were ahead 2-0 early.
“They changed the momentum of the game and we kept the momentum,” Mattingly said.
From the start, the Cougars found with less playing territory than they’d like. Aided by a blustering wind blowing in their foes’ direction, CMW successfully penned Chesapeake on its own side of the field as the Mustangs pressed the circle tighter and tighter.
Chesapeake keeper Eve Vickery (four saves) stopped the first Mustang shot on goal, but the black-clad attackers kept at it. It wouldn’t be long before they pecked through.
With less than three minutes down, Aljets plucked a momentarily loose ball and fired the first Mustangs goal.
Then, four minutes later, Aljets scooped up a loose ball and cut to May. The forward made the shot, hitting the back of the cage.
“It was amazing. I am just so excited for this team and I’m so happy that we finally finished this year. After a hard loss last year, we just came in and knew what we had to do and just got straight to business,” Aljets said. “It feels great. Chesapeake is such an amazing team, so being able to beat them was awesome.”
The Cougars (12-7) had earned a reputation this season as the “second-half team,” rallying victories in key games from regular season to regionals. But on Saturday, another one wasn’t in the cards.
“They were the better team today. We seemed to not be able to play our game today,” Cougars coach Joan Johnson said.
Down by two, senior Mason Frechtel and sophomore Georgia Spangler nearly flicked in their own goal for Chesapeake, but the ball took a sharp bounce out just inches from the cage.
Two goals to none was the very lead Chesapeake had cruised on to the title last year. But the Cougars were undeterred by this year’s obstacle – these were the “comeback kids,” after all.
And that’s exactly what Johnson told them as they huddled by their benches at halftime.
In the second half, even with the gusts on its side, CMW continued to strip the Cougars in the field and break off for its own scoring attempts. But they wouldn’t – as the Mustangs scored three-straight corners, the Chesapeake defense, led by Hannah McKeon, battled the ball out of danger.
Corners were often the deciding factor in the Cougars’ games this season, usually in their favor. But the Cougars had multiple corners awarded of their own in the second half, they just couldn’t capitalize.
Rachel Fleig, who’d ushered attacks on the Mustangs’ goal multiple times, launched a shot too short for fruition. Then, McKeon swept the ball back on goal, but her own attempt was tripped up by feet, ending any hope of making its way into the net.
Time was slipping for Chesapeake to score. Meanwhile, the Mustangs weren’t even finished.
The Mustangs unleashed a counter-attack in May, who ferried the ball from midfield and pelted a shot behind Vickery for the third Mustangs goal.
“It feels good. We were determined and I really wanted to have my team win,” May said. “It was really good…I felt like we had it. Once we scored the third goal I felt it was pretty easy from then on out.”
In the last eight minutes, coach Johnson bulked up her attacking force. But it was no use. They just couldn’t get a piece of the ball.
“Towards the end, I just tried to get my seniors in,” the coach said.
With the loss, Chesapeake’s three-year unbeaten postseason run hit the end of the road.
“It’s awesome. I have a group of girls who love playing field hockey,” coach Mattingly said. “They really worked hard to earn this.”
Reach Randy McRoberts on twitter. @aegissports