The Broadneck girls lacrosse team’s goal coming into this abbreviated season wasn’t to win a state title. The Bruins didn’t yet know if there was even going to be a postseason.
They just wanted to play well, and for each other.
That’s just what they did to complete a perfect season with a state championship Saturday at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex. After a back-and-forth second half, the top-seeded Bruins held off Arundel’s rally, 12-11, in the Class 4A final to capture the program’s first state title since 2013 — and maintain an unbeaten record.
The fourth title for Broadneck (13-0) was its closest since 2003, when the Bruins won by a goal in double overtime.
“No matter what the game, no matter who we’re playing, no matter if it’s a rival like Arundel or it’s anyone — the only thing we worry about is it only takes one goal to win,” senior Alexis Abe said.
Since the Class 4A and 3A split into two, no team outside of Anne Arundel County has won the 4A crown. Of course, that would’ve happened either way Saturday.
But Broadneck coach Katy Kelley reminded her team: these opportunities don’t come often. Kelley and the Bruins experienced an “outpouring” of alumni support during their unbeaten run. It motivated them even more. Before the state final, Karen Tengwall — the coach who secured Broadneck’s first three titles in 2002, 2003 and 2013 — texted Kelley, her former assistant, words of encouragement.
There was a picture of sophomore Lilly Kelley, who scored a hat trick along with Lexi Dupcak, as a young child standing next to her mother and Tengwall, hoisting the 2013 state championship trophy.
“It’s fun, seeing that full circle come around,” said Katy Kelley, who also expressed how grateful she was to watch her daughter compete in the state final in a Broadneck uniform. “My staff is four former players that played for Karen and I. That’s a tribute to what Broadneck does.”
Broadneck might’ve preferred not to have played Arundel (11-3) and Severna Park so early in its season and easier opponents later on. The Falcons of season’s end surprised them, forcing double overtime in the region final. That’s why the Bruins weren’t surprised by the ferocity with which Arundel played them to the wire Saturday.
“They fulfilled every expectation. I loved that game because it was tight, it was tough,” Katy Kelley said. “Arundel came out on fire. I think out postseason run was not easy, so they just knew they had to grind it out the whole entire time.”
Kelley always impressed on her players to look forward, not backward. That they only need one goal at the end of things.
“Ultimately, we know that until the time is up, we need to fight,” Lilly Kelley said. “The lead came from our team’s unity, how much we love each other.”
Arundel coach Kim McNemar never lost the feeling that if the Wildcats had their 2020 season together, they’d be even better. But she was blown away by how quickly her team meshed and grew into one that made history: capturing the program’s first region title and playing toe-to-toe with the best girls lacrosse team in the state for a chance to win its first state title.
“We need to build from this,” McNemar said. “The kids are already saying, ‘We’re coming back.’”
Every first move Broadneck made seemed like it was fueled by too much coffee. Arundel took advantage of that jitteriness to score first, when Morgan Gore knocked in the first of her three goals.
But when Mary Moore (two goals) struck back for Broadneck, the Bruins seemed to collect themselves enough to keep up with the intense seesaw match ahead of them.
The sides swapped four ties and switched leads repeatedly in the first half. There wasn’t much the prolific scoring teams could do with each other’s defenses dive-bombing ball-handlers like osprey on fish. The two goalkeepers on each end suppressed the scoring even more. Kylie Sharpe made most of her eight saves for the Wildcats, while her Broadneck counterpart, Chloe Rand, played her part as well when her Bruins needed her.
Down 5-4, Gore earned a free-position shot and faced Rand down. But the Broadneck goalkeeper stood strong, fending off her shot — and more and more — to preserve the Bruin’s lead through the first half.
“We all trust each other. If someone gets beat, we can rely on Chloe. That feeling is really good,” Lilly Kelley said. “This whole season, our whole team knows the impact she’s had. We probably wouldn’t be undefeated without her.”
Both teams seemed to board the seesaw in the second half, trading a pair of goals.
But as the ball left Dupcak’s stick and hit the back of the net for a 6-5 lead, there was something very different brewing for the Bruins.
Dupcak led Broadneck as it poured on the goals to lead 11-5 just 10 minutes into the half. The Bruins captured four draw controls, scoring on each, before Arundel could win one again.
As she called them into a timeout, NcNemar reminded her players they were here for a reason.
“We have worked so hard to get here. People doubted us so much,” she said. “I said to them, ‘Give everything you have and you can make history here.’”
Malia Walker and Caroline Keane stoked the burgeoning rally with goals before Rand tried to smother Arundel for good with a few saves.
But she couldn’t. Walker took a diving shot for a goal and senior Nikki Seven netted the last two of her career to make it 12-11 with 20 seconds left. If the last draw went Arundel’s way, the Wildcats might’ve celebrated their first championship.
Abe felt it as Dupcak crossed into the circle — something she’d watched her practice dozens of times — that she could do it.
In moments, the horn sounded, and the Bruins piled onto Rand, screaming.
“With the few seconds left, knowing she got the draw, before time ran out, we started running down the field [towards Rand],” Abe said. “We just knew.”
B: Lexi Dupcak (3), Lilly Kelley (3); Mary Moore (2), Tobin Chambers (1), Julia Sokolowksi (1), Sam Lavorini (1), Alexis Abe (1); A: Morgan Gore (3), Caroline Keane (3), Malia Walker (2), Nikki Seven (2), Madison Barber (1)