Despite going through a more grueling schedule this season, Marriotts Ridge rolled into its regular season finale against rival Mt. Hebron with just one loss and a perfect county mark. And fittingly, the Mustangs added one more victory onto their season totals, defeating the host Vikings, 7-5, to clinch a county championship title.
“I think it’s just a testament to how great these girls are and how hard they work,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Amanda Brady. “We always tell them the harder we work in practice – yes we’re having fun – but the wins are much sweater, so they’ve been working their butts off.”
The Vikings came off a rough overtime loss against Howard on Tuesday, suffering their first county defeat of the season. A win over the Mustangs would have earned them a share of the county championship, but unfortunately Mt. Hebron (5-2, 10-4) could not maintain its momentum from the first half into the final 25 minutes of action.
“I think it just came down to possession,” said Vikings coach Lindsay Menton. “I think it was a great game. I think we played great defensively and we were much smarter with the ball offensively. They got a couple goals on us, and then we just had to get the ball back. But I’m very proud of our team today.”
Mt. Hebron dominated on the circle in the first half, winning the first four draws of the game. The Vikings took their time offensively, holding for lengthy possessions until seeing a good look at the cage. But the Mustangs defense played stout and forced numerous turnovers throughout the outing, including seven in the first half.
“I think we probably had the ball for four and a half minutes in the first half – (our defense was) really impressive,” Brady said. “Four goals in 20 minutes or so, certainly impressed with them, I mean every single one of my defenders, including my midfielders I think had big plays and certainly were difference makers. They often started off the surge in transition, which was awesome.”
Marriotts Ridge (6-0, 13-1) came up with a stop on Mt. Hebron’s first offensive set. Hayleigh Simpson quickly took advantage at the other end, netting the game’s first goal for the Mustangs three minutes in.
“It feels amazing,” Simpson said after the game. “We love our seniors and we we’re so happy we could give that to them this year… We’re now county champs – undefeated in the county, which is another plus. We ‘ve had a rivalry for a really long time so it’s nice to beat them after the overtime win that they had a few years ago, and just prove ourselves again.”
On Mt. Hebron’s first shot attempt of the game, Jordan Stevens got the Vikings on the board, knotting the game up at one with about 19 minutes left.
Annalise Lower put the Mustangs back up midway through the half, capitalizing off a forced turnover by Leah Zadjura on the defensive end. But again, the Vikings won the ball off the draw and settled in to tie the game back up at two. Stevens assisted Sorana Larson on the play, as the senior drained her shot with 10 minutes left in the half.
Marriotts Ridge then netted back-to-back goals from Lily Kennedy and Carly Miller and held a 4-2 lead with 3 minutes and 41 seconds left in the half. However, Mt. Hebron made most of the time remaining.
Larson got the Vikings within one with just more than a minute left after burying her free position and notching her second goal of the game. Marriotts Ridge won the ensuing draw, but Mt. Hebron caused the turnover before the Mustangs established their offense. However, the Vikings gave it right back after Marriotts Ridge came up with the loose ball on the re-defend, but again, the Mustangs lost possession and the Vikings were ready to clear the other way. Casey Sullivan picked off Mt. Hebron goalie Jen Schaaf’s pass down field and quickly got it back on their offensive end, but Larson came up with a good check, picked up the ground ball and passed it over to Ellie Miller who fed it inside to Lexi Arens. Arens narrowly put her shot past Mustangs goalie Olivia Ranta before the buzzer sounded and knotted up the score at four entering halftime.
“I think that gave us some great momentum going into the half,” said Vikings coach Lindsay Menton. “I think our mantra this season is that we work best when we work together. To go back when we first spoke in the beginning of the season, the sum is greater than all of its parts, and I think that exemplified that and that’s something we really want to take with us as we go into the postseason.”
Marriotts Ridge came out in the second half determined to win possession from the opening draw and did just that. Simpson tallied her second of the afternoon just two minutes into the second period and then Victoria Hensh added on midway through the half, giving the Mustangs the 6-4 advantage. Caroline Blalock pushed the cushion to three after she netted her lone goal of the game with about seven minute left and the Mustangs defense took over from there.
“I think we were able to stay composed,” Simpson said. “The game was a little rough, not a lot of fouls, which was fine you just get to play more. We were able to keep our composure and not throw the ball away as much and step up our game… I think we just played really hard and was able to take the game.”
Stevens cut into the deficit with 4 minutes and 45 seconds to play, finishing strong on a free position from the center hash, but that was the closest the Vikings came toward the lead.
Marriotts Ridge’s defense remained solid for the final minutes, with Ranta (five saves) coming up big down the stretch. No bigger was a save with less than two minutes remaining on a Vikings free position, which preserved the two-goal advantage.
“I also give Sarah Blalock credit for that because she killed it getting in defensively with her stick ready to go,” added Brady. “(But) talk about hot today. (Ranta) had three or four really good saves at the end of that half – super impressed with her.”
Mt. Hebron backed up the shot, but Kelly Colegrove created the turnover on the following play. The Mustangs got it down in their zone and milked the remaining minutes off the game clock to clinch the win.
“Super composed right?” Brady said of Colegrove. “That’s just how that kid plays, so composed and smooth but comes up big, which is really impressive.”
Simpson led Marriotts Ridge with two goals, while Miller, Lower and Caroline Blalock each picked up a goal and an assist in the outing.
“I think possession – we started coming up with possession and we know that that’s what the game is all about,” Brady said was the difference in the game. “We fought hard for it. We made a couple adjustments, using some speed and I think that was definitely a key contributor for us to be able to capitalize on the offensive end.
The Mustangs clinched their fourth county title and first since 2013, as the Vikings sat atop the county standings the past two seasons.
“We look at it as one game at a time, (but) certainly set some goals at the beginning of the season,” Brady said. “We haven’t had a full county championship in awhile, so that’s impressive and pretty awesome, especially in this season with this new alignment.”
Stevens and Larson each tallied two goals for the Vikings, while Stevens also notched an assist on the day. Schaaf played outstanding in net, making some huge saves throughout the game and finishing with nine stops.
“Jen is a great goalie and we encourage her to take risks and I think that’s exactly what she did today,” Menton said. “She kind of threw caution to the wind and those high risk, high reward situations and she played great. She really acted like a leader back there in the cage.”
Despite the loss, Menton felt confident in her group and hopes to take the momentum built from the game into postseason play where a rematch with the Mustangs could come into fruition.
“I think we’re peaking at just the right time and the good news is that we see all of the good teams that we see in the regular season down the road in the postseason, so we’re ready,” she said. “I’m really confident with this game and if this is the last game going into it, then bring it on.”
Marriotts Ridge 7, Mt. Hebron 5 (Friday, May 6)
Goals: MR – Simpson 2, Kennedy 1, Lower 1, Miller 1, Hensh 1, Blalock 1; MH – Stevens 2, Larson 2, Arens 1.
Assists: MR – Lower 1, Miller 1, C. Blalock 1; MH – Stevens 1, Miller 1.
Saves: MR – Ranta 5; Schaaf 9.
Howard storms past Atholton, earns 12-7 win in regular season finale
Propelled by strong opening half runs, Howard finished its season with another county victory after defeating visiting Atholton, 12-7 Friday.
“The biggest thing we talked about afterword is that we need to play a complete game,” said Lions senior midfielder Ella Orzechowski. “We started this game really well. We had a 4-0 run and then we got too cool, calmed down and gave up our lead. So going into playoffs we just need to play a complete game. On defense we need to slide and talk all the time, not let silly things happen on offense and make sure to take care of the ball because possession is the major key.”
Howard’s (5-2, 10-4) dominance on the circle aided in its quick 4-0 start. Emileigh Scott, like she has done consistently all season, excelled on the draws, winning 11 in the outing.
“It is all about possession. We are very, very lucky that we have Emileigh Scott on the draw, she does a great job as well as the girls on the circle,” said Lions coach Diana Carey. “And when they got possession, they were able to capitalize on it. It was a key factor and we do work on. Luckily, it played out well for us.”
Kendall Wells started the run, finishing off a pass from Jenny Kinsey at the 23:30 mark. Kinsey followed it up, making good on her free position two minutes later and then helped add another on the following offensive possession, assisting Wells once more to push the lead to 3-0. Orzechowski capped off the surge, splitting a double and finishing her first goal of the day.
“I think getting the possession off the draw really helped us,” Orzechowski said. “We have Em Scott who is amazing and has the height and the jump – so that really helped us and once we got possession we were able to settle down and run through our plays, wait for them to pressure out and build a lead. That helped us obtain that lead so that we could get possession and hold it for the rest of the game.”
Atholton (7-4, 8-4) settled down defensively and caused some turnovers on the defensive end, which resulted in more opportunities offensively. The Raiders didn’t establish their first offensive set until 19 minutes left in the half and registered their first shot on goal a minute later. Their defense played solid, holding the Lions four-goal cushion, until Kelley Flynn registered Atholton’s first goal of the game midway through the period, cutting the score, 4-1.
“I think we played very well. I think our defense played phenomenal,” said Raiders coach Kelly McGrath. “We just really focus on sinking in, protecting within the eight. Try to limit them and trying to make them shoot outside shots. I think we played a lot of defense today and when we got down on attack we got some good looks, good opportunities, but draw possession really made us struggle today.”
Kinsey notched another goal after the Lions won the ensuing draw, but Atholton ended the half on a 3-0 run and got within one.
Flynn, with the good stick, knocked down a pass on the defensive end, leading to a Meaghan Quinn goal with about 13 minutes remaining. Flynn cut the lead to two after finishing her free position with four minutes left. Erin Dabney then capped off the surge, putting away her goal with 16.1 seconds until the break.
“I think they started off strong and I think they fell apart,” Carey said. “We just talked about they need to come out and play a complete game. No more of these, start off good then fall asleep, and then come back into it. So that’s a key thing for us and that’s what we are looking for going into playoffs is to make this a complete game.”
The Lions came out in the second half, much like they started the first. They quickly rattled off three straight goals within the first five minutes, extending their lead, 9-4.
“We were kind of disappointed on our attack at halftime, just because we definitely forced some stuff,” Orzechowski said. “There were some balls we passed in the middle that just wasn’t there. We talked about that and we were just like, ‘we’re playing too cool, we’re playing too relaxed. Atholton is a great team. They can easily beat anyone on any day.’ And with the weather we didn’t know what was going to happen, so we just needed to play our game and really pulled out in the second half and really do what we talked about at halftime.”
Katie Martin started the run shortly following another draw control win by Scott. Vetter and Orzechowski followed before Quinn put an end to the surge with about 19 minutes left in the game. But the Raiders struggled gaining the ball back to climb closer to the lead.
Howard added two more goals from Orzechowski and Katie Schluederberg, before Emma Johnson put away an assist from KK Shepherd with 16 minutes and 20 seconds remaining, cutting the lead 11-6.
“And that’s what we talked about, not looking at that big deficit and just focusing on small little changes we can make to gain momentum and get excited, so we can work one step at a time to get back into it,” McGrath said. “But once we get down by five that’s hard to dig yourself out. We’ve done it before, but we came up short today, but they never gave up. We definitely made adjustments to the draw, to the defense, but when they started to stall, they’re exhausted on defense so I think we ran out of gas at the end there.”
Orzechowski put away another goal for the Lions with 12 minutes remaining, extending their lead to six. Johnson got the deficit back down to five, finishing off a feed from Quinn, but Howard held possession for the majority of the last 10 minutes, clinching the five-point win.
“We just got to make sure we’re putting this together for a complete 50 minutes,” Carey added. “There can’t be any let downs. We have to play as a team and can’t have people playing, ‘me’ it’s got to be, ‘we’ the whole time, so we before me and just keeping possession, and keeping your mind into what you’re doing for a full 50 minutes.”
Orzechowski led the way with four goals, while Wells (two goals), Kinsey (two goals, two assists) and Schluederberg (one goal, two assists) followed offensively. Sam Sagi played solid in net and picked up seven saves in the win.
Quinn, Johnson and Flynn each finished with two goals for the Raiders, while Quinn and Shepherd both tallied assists in the outing. Maddy Eaton finished with two saves, while Hannah Bizokas picked up for saves in the second half of action.
“I thought Kelley played really well. I think Hannah stepped up at a really crucial time when we put her in the cage, made some really big saves. She’s been working hard and talk about those little things, making a big save like that gave us a little bit of momentum,” McGrath said. “I thought KK played really well on defense made a couple crucial draw controls and assists, so KK played really well too.”
Despite the loss, Atholton is still looking at a top seed in its section for postseason play, which starts next Wednesday.
“We’re excited,” McGrath added. “We’re working hard each day, so we’re excited to be in a really competitive bracket and looking forward to the first and second round.”
Howard 12 (5-2, 10-4), Atholton (7-4, 8-4) 7 (Friday, May 6)
Goals: Ho – Orzechowski 4, Wells 2, Kinsey 2, Vetter 1, Tsao 1, Martin 1, Schluederberg 1; A – M. Quinn 2, Johnson 2, Flynn 2, Dabney 1.
Assists: Ho – Schluederberg 2, Kinsey 2; A – M. Quinn 1, Shepherd 1.
Saves: Ho – Sagi 7; A – Eaton 2, Bizokas 4.
Halftime: 5-4 Howard.
Centennial (5-6, 6-8) 15, River Hill (4-7, 4-10) 12 (Friday, May 6)
The Eagles clinched the season finale victory over host Hawks Friday, coming away with their fifth league win of the year.
Centennial stormed out to an early 8-3 advantage, but River Hill battled back in the second half, closing the gap down the stretch. But the Eagles buckled down and pulled out the three-point win.
Centennial had a balanced attack in the outing, with seven different goal scorers in the game and six team assists. But senior Devin McIntyre led the way, finishing an outstanding offensive game with six goals and one assist. Izzie Chausse and Jenna Dietrich split time in net for the Eagles, and they recorded four and three saves, respectively.
Seniors Katie Caddigan (four goals, one assist), Paige Caprara (three goals, one assist) and sophomore Gabby Hamburger (three goals, one assist) led River Hill offensively, while junior Annie Maloney registered 12 saves in net.
Goals: C – McIntyre 6, Bracey 2, Conley 1, Courtemanche 1, Durkee 1, Griffin 1, Oliver 1; RH – Caddigan 4, Hamburger 3, Caprara 3, Seybold 1, Thelemann 1.
Assists: C – Pilcher 2, Conley 1, Courtemanche 1, McIntyre 1, Oliver 1; RH – Caprara 1, Caddigan 1, Hamburger 1.
Saves: C – Chausse 4, Dietrich 3; RH – Maloney 12.
Halftime: 8-3 Centennial.
Hammond 22 (4-4, 7-7), Long Reach (0-8, 1-12)12 (Friday, May 6)