HAMPSTEAD — Friday night's 17-14 loss to the Severna Park Falcons just didn't seem fair to North Carroll girls lacrosse coach Stacey Abeles and her Panthers.
In their first-ever playoff appearance, they had the pleasure (or displeasure) of facing the four-time defending Class 3A/4A champions from Anne Arundel County.
They stayed right with the defending champions throughout the game until just past the midway point of the second half, when Severna scored four straight goals to take a 16-11 lead. North Carroll ralliedto score three of the final four goals, but it was not enough, as the fifth-seeded Falcons advanced to the semifinals.
"We proved a lot tonight," Abeles said after the game. "Their (Severna) game was to pass, pass, pass, and they were really connecting, but we stayed right in the game.
"A lot of people felt we were going to get blown out, but it never really got one-sided."
North Carroll came out of the blocks fast. Dawn Weishaar scored 15 seconds into the contest and the Panthers jumped out to an early 4-2 lead before the Erin Wylde got the Falcons even at 4, midway through the first half.
Severna's Hillary Kuker scored twice late in the first half to give the Falconsa 9-6 lead before Weishaar closed the first half, scoring to cut thelead to 9-7.
The second half started much the same as the first half, with North Carroll dominating early.
Panthers senior Bridget Harris tossed in two goals in the opening minutes, as the Panthers scored three straight to take a 10-9 lead.
Severna answered with three goals of its own to regain the lead at 12-10.
After North Carroll senior Vicki Williams cut the lead to 12-11, Severna's Holly Roessler scored. That was followed by a pair by Kuker, who finished the night with four, and one by Tami Riley, her third of the night, extending the Falcons' lead to 16-11 with under 10 minutes to play.
Williams finished the night with three goals, while Stacey Kent, Gina Christani, Weishaar and Harris added two each for the Panthers, who finish the season at 10-3.
Friday night's loss did not tarnish a seasonwhich saw the Panthers reach heights they never had reached before.
They enjoyed their first winning season in grand fashion, taking the Class 3A/4A Region I with a 10-2 mark after a 6-6 year in 1990.
"Our goal all along was to do well outside the county and we did that this year by reaching states," Abeles said. "We would have liked tohave advanced, but it wasn't to be."
The Panthers were led by a strong corps of seniors, including Harris, Williams, Kent and their goalie Char Burress, who had 26 saves in Friday's loss. Their leadership certainly will be missed.