TOWSON — The miracle of modern technology is making the Severna Park field hockey team's 1-0 loss to Westminster in Saturday's Class 4A state championship a little tougher to swallow.
An unofficial instant replayof a field-level videotape clearly shows that Nicole Batten's goal caromed off her leg -- not her stick, as required by the rules -- and past Falcon goalkeeper Rachel Kidwell.
Kidwell had a front-row seat to the action and said she'd never dreamed the goal would stand.
"I didn't know it was a goal," said the junior. "I thought that the ref would have seen it. I didn't know it counted until halftime.
"I saw everyone cheer, but I thought itwas obvious that it went off her leg. I saw it go off of (teammate) Lisa Hetrick's leg, and then it went off her (Batten's) shinguard andin. She had her stick up, so there was no way she could have hit it in.
"It just seems like a cheap way to win."
Unfortunately, theMaryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association is not the National Football Association, and the official's call of "goal" was allowed to stand despite the video evidence.
It was a wonder that the videotape had even started rolling on the Goucher College field, asthe Owls slashed through Severna Park's tentative defense and found the cage in just 24 seconds.
Afterward, Severna Park coach Lil Shelton refused to make any excuses for her team's inability to score but could not avoid speculating as to what could have been had the gamegone into overtime.
"We just couldn't score, but it would have been even up and we would have gone into overtime, had that not happen," Shelton said. "If it's scored off of the stick and it's a legal goal, we accept that.
"It's tough to accept this.
"When you get tothis level, the scores are very low. Usually, 1-0 is going to take the game."
The top-seeded Falcons, who came into the final sportinga spotless 15-0 record, fired 16 duds on goal. Eight of those 16 shots were turned away by Westminster goalie Cindy Dieterly, including apair late in the game from point-blank range.
The defense-minded Owls, who yielded only three goals all season while recording 11 shutouts, limited Severna Park's leading scorer Jen Stone to three shots.
Stone (16 goals) saw one of her first-half shots soar high above the cage.
"I think it was just a matter of time (before we got shut out)," Shelton said. "We had so many good offensive opportunities, and they didn't go in.
"Our shots on goal and the number of goals that we get have been very low this year, but it doesn't take but theone."
The Falcon defense, led by Suzanne Leavitt and Diane Parisi, kept the Owls from doing any further damage in the game's remaining59 minutes and 36 seconds. Kidwell finished the game with six saves,including a one-on-one stop that she brushed away with her boot.
"Our defense did a great job," said Shelton, whose Falcons defeated the Owls in the semifinals last season, 1-0, before bowing to Bethesda-Chevy Chase in the final, 2-1. "It was just that little lapse.
"Ithink the girls played right up until the very end. They didn't let down at all, because they always have that feeling that they're goingto get that goal in."
Asked if she was beginning to get a bit frustrated after being defeated in three of the last four state finals, Shelton said, "We get here, and that's the big thing. We get here every year, and its great that we can do that. We told our kids to get their chins up. They have nothing to be ashamed of."