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High School sports

No. 4 Crofton field hockey scores late to edge No. 6 River Hill, 2-1, in Class 3A final for first state championship

Her team battling for its first state title in just the second year of its existence, Crofton field hockey coach Amy Skrickus glanced at her star midfielder and saw the look. Junior Kylie Corcoran wasn’t going to let this chance slip away.

“You can tell when Kylie gets this fire in her eyes, and she had it at the end there,” Skrickus said. “She just goes full speed. She’s hungry. She wants that goal.”

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With 4:05 left in a tie game, Corcoran got it, spinning around and firing a hard shot from the right side of the cage and beating the goalie to the far post to give the No. 4 Cardinals a 2-1 win over No. 6 River Hill in the Class 3A championship game at Stevenson University in Owings Mills.

In a game in which Crofton (16-2) was outshot 14-6 and gave up 16 penalty corners, Corcoran’s late heroics were the perfect complement to a stout defensive effort that included 12 saves from standout sophomore Ryleigh Osborne.

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“I think [we] had [16] corners, and we tried lots of different things. We just didn’t get past them,” River Hill coach Shelly Chamness said. “We had lots of shots on goal, lots of corners, but that defense was the hardest defense we’ve come up against, for sure.”

For Crofton, which opened in 2020 for freshmen and sophomores, the effort resulted in the first Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state title in school history in any sport. The school’s unified bocce team also won last spring in a sport not sanctioned by the state association.

Crofton field hockey players hoist the championship trophy after winning the Class 3A title over River Hill on Saturday night.

“It’s something that we’ve been working on all year,” Corcoran said. “It was our goal from the beginning. I think when we got here, we were like, ‘Let’s finish this.’”

River Hill (16-3), however, stood in the way, led by a pair of all-state midfielders in Maryland-commit Maddie Vasilios and Stanford-commit Puja Nanjappa.

The Hawks, who also made it to the finals last year before falling to Arundel, 2-1, led this game from the early moments, when sophomore Maya Chan tipped in a hard entry pass from Vasilios just 5:56 into the game.

“We knew it was going to be a hard game, we knew it was going to be back and forth,” Skrickus said. “We told them, ‘They’re probably going to score. They’re a very good team; they’ve scored a lot of goals. It’s what you do to respond to that.”

Crofton fought back later in the quarter to tie the game when Karryn Dean fed fellow sophomore Mary-Cate Parks for the score.

That’s when the Cardinals’ defense took over, denying River Hill’s prime scoring chances time and again.

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“Everybody really meshed together as a team,” Osborne said. “It was really important for our defense to all stick together.”

Crofton defender Lyla Poknis, left, and River Hill attacker Carolyn Dzubak, right, go after the ball during the Class 3A state championship game Saturday night.

“We were just trying to be aware of where [Vasilios and Nanjappa] were on the field,” Skrickus said. “We didn’t want to take away from our game, which is a small passing game. We wanted to make sure we weren’t changing what we do, but we knew we had to shut them down.”

Crofton did just that, setting the stage for Corcoran’s late goal.

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“Our coach said, ‘We need to put the ball in the net,’ and that really motivated me,” she said. “Honestly, I didn’t even know it was going to go in. It was a really lucky shot, and I thought someone would tip it on the post.”

This marked the first season the Cardinals have played with seniors on their roster, something that showed in the team’s poise down the stretch.

“We’re still such a very young team,” Skrickus said. “I’m so happy for our graduating seniors — the first class. You can’t have a better way to send them out.”

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Field hockey

Class 3A state final

Crofton 2, River Hill 1

Goals: R — Chan; C — Parks, Corcoran. Assists: R — Vasilios; C — Dean. Saves: R — Baker 1; C — Osborne 12. Half: Tied, 1-1.


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