Dulaney girls lacrosse coach Kristi Korrow is well aware that sometimes taking your lumps early can lead to success down the road.
That’s why, in addition to games against Baltimore County rivals such as Towson and Hereford, the 18th-year coach filled out her schedule with games against the likes of Carroll County-powers Manchester Valley and Century, as well as Roland Park from the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland’s A Conference.
The results of those games weren’t always pretty, but the education her Lions received was on full display in Saturday’s 17-6 win over Walter Johnson in the Class 4A state semifinals at Bel Air High School.
After facing some of the area’s toughest teams, Dulaney dominated the Montgomery County power from the outset, scoring the game’s first five goals. Then, when the Wildcats made a run late in the first half to cut the lead to four, the Lions finished them off by scoring eight of the final nine.
“I think [the tough schedule] helped a lot,” sophomore Heidi Schmidt said. “Getting that hard pressure is a difficult thing. … Playing against different teams that are really tough really helps us later on.”
“We try to make sure our schedule contains as many difficult opponents as possible,” Korrow said. “I know it can affect our seeding in the end, but to me, it’s more important to have them prepared for the tough games because that’s what you’re eventually going to see.”
Schmidt scored a game-high five goals and junior Anna Jones added four goals and an assist as Dulaney (11-5) advanced to the championship game for the third time since 2018.
There, the Lions will face two-time defending state champion Broadneck, a 17-4 winner over North County in the other semifinal. The game will take place at Stevenson University on Wednesday at 6 p.m., with the Lions shooting for their first title since 2016 and fourth overall.
Walter Johnson (12-3), which lost to Whitman and Sherwood by a goal, bowed out of the semifinals for the third time and still has yet to make the final.
This one was never in doubt.
Led by early dominance in the draw circle by junior Elena Emde, Dulaney took command from the start, keeping possession and building a 5-0 lead after the first 12 minutes, 38 seconds. The Lions’ advantage in speed was on full display, as time and again they managed to blow past defenders to the goal and frequently beat the Wildcats to loose balls.
“We knew they were going to play in a backer [zone defense], which is what we actually practice a lot,” Jones said. “Our attack … we know how to get through that and just not freak out. Just handle the pressure.”
Dulaney also forced frequent turnovers, including four on Walter Johnson’s first four possessions, as a defense led by juniors Brooke Ellis and London McFarlane kept the pressure on high.
“They’re very fast, physical, [and] they move the ball really, really well,” Walter Johnson coach Tina Fitzpatrick said. “It’s hard to play a team where everyone is just very talented. We made a lot of mistakes and they were able to capitalize on them.”
Walter Johnson, which got three goals and an assist from senior Olivia McCloskey, did make a run late in the first half, winning draws and scoring three goals in 51 seconds at the end of the half, then another 3:35 into the second half to cut the deficit to 9-5.
“At halftime, we talked about playing with confidence and slowing their momentum, because they were starting to build it,” Korrow said. “We talked about [how] we had to come out with the same energy that we started the game with.”
“I got a little nervous but I didn’t have any doubts,” Jones said. “I know we’re a good team and that we could get back.”
Jones and Schmidt combined to score the next four goals, and the Lions dramatically slowed the tempo to run time off the clock. Senior Audrey Simoes (seven saves) also came up big in goal, ending any hopes of a comeback.
Goals: D — Schmidt 5, Jones 4, Connor 2, S. Crowley 2, N. Crowley 2, Center, Fowler; WJ — McCloskey 3, Krouse 2, Hilton.
Assists: D — Emde 3, Keppeler 2, Jones, N. Crowley, Bowers; WJ — McCloskey.
Saves: D — Simoes 7; WJ — Wall 5.
Half: 9-4, D