After a year of waiting and countless hours of preparation, C. Milton Wright has earned its shot at redemption.
The Mustangs came out and dominated from the opening whistle against Blake in the 3A state semifinals on Monday at Broadneck High School, scoring four times in the first half en route to a 5-0 victory and a berth in the state championship contest for a second straight year.
The team now turns its attention to a title-game rematch Saturday at 11 a.m. at Washington College against Chesapeake-AA, which beat Westminster 4-0 in its semifinal game Monday and earned a 2-0 victory over CMW when the two teams squared off in last year’s 3A final.
“They are in it to completely win it and win it all this year. They have been thinking about this moment, getting back here, since the first day of preseason,” C. Milton Wright coach Kelly Mattingly said. “This has been the end goal, no question about it. Last year was tough, so to now get a second chance they couldn’t be more excited.”
Senior Taylor Marchetti echoed the sentiment of her coach, saying the team has been “hungry” for another shot on the state’s biggest stage.
“We’ve been working really well together all season and really bonding together,” Marchetti said. “We’re ready for Saturday.”
The Mustangs’ field hockey program won its first and only state title in 2013.
C. Milton Wright (16-1) wasted little time setting the tone against Blake (14-3), immediately pushing the ball into their offensive third and eventually striking for the game’s first goal just three minutes in.
On a transition opportunity, Sam Aljets beat a pair of Bengals’ defenders to the ball and finished into the back of the cage for a 1-0 lead. Seven minutes later, Carly Muffley scored on a redirection off a feed from Marchetti to increase the lead to two.
Then, less than a minute later with just over 19 minutes left in the opening half, Georgia Beachley got in on the scoring to make it 3-0 CMW.
“We always start off our games really fast, really pushing the tempo because we want to control our game and play our game,” Marchetti said. “When we scored that first goal it kind of got our confidence up and got the momentum going for us.”
Blake coach Patrick Howley, whose team was making its third straight appearance in the state semifinals, said that the momentum slipped away quickly.
“It just wasn’t our night tonight and it wasn’t for a lack of effort. [CMW] just spread it out real well and were making a lot of good passes right from the beginning of that first half,” Howley said. “Their chemistry was clicking right away and it took us a little while to adjust.”
The Bengals did settle in a bit as the opening half wore on, generating more time of possession. But the Mustangs were relentless and ended up still adding a fourth goal just before halftime.
This time it was Marchetti scoring off a corner from Olivia Hennessey.
“Once they get one, they are ready for more and their goal is to keep going until they get that clock running,” Mattingly said. “It’s something they talked about themselves. They know when you get to this point in the season, it’s critical to keep that momentum going because it can change in a blink of an eye.”
Less than two minutes out of intermission, CMW added its fifth and final goal courtesy of Beachley’s second score of the night.
Mustangs’ goalie Finley Mooreland finished with one save, while Blake goalie Mackenzie Robinson made seven.
Looking ahead to the showdown with defending-champion Chesapeake, Mattingly says this year’s team is definitely more prepared than it was this time last year.
“Now we know what it takes. We were young last year, particularly young mentally, so I think we got nervous and got away from playing our game,” she said. “They now know what to expect and are playing more as a team at the moment than they have all season.”
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