GAITHERSBURG -- There was little drama here yesterday. Westminster senior Ann Brennan made sure of that with a goal 14 minutes into the game.
Thus the No. 3 Westminster Owls went about their usual business, dominating as they have all season long to come away with a 1-0 win over Gaithersburg and the Class 4A North region championship.
It's the Owls' 11th region title in 13 seasons as they begin their quest for a fifth state title with a semifinal game Wednesday afternoon at Goucher College.
The 1-0 result doesn't show just how dominant the Owls (14-0) were in yesterday's game played at Quince Orchard High School. They owned a 13-1 edge in shots over Gaithersburg and a 14-2 advantage in penalty corners.
Brennan's goal in the first half was a big lift. Gaithersburg (7-7) called timeout with possession deep in its own end. When play resumed, Brennan stole the re-start pass, dribbled through one defender and got by goalie Katie Herzog before scoring into an empty net.
"Scoring early was definitely a plus," Brennan said. "We knew the goalie was coming out and making the first save. I just dribbled it in."
In the 1-0 region semifinal win against Watkins Mill, the Owls dominated in much the same fashion but needed a second-half goal from Jen Medura to advance.
"It was good to get it [in the first half] and it maybe helped take a little pressure off us, but I don't think we let up," said Westminster co-coach Sue Hooper.
The Owls had chance after chance to add insurance goals in the second half, but they never came, due to strong play in goal from Herzog, who finished with eight saves. Brennan and Becky Towns both had breakaways in the second half and Selena Brewer also had a couple of shots turned aside.
Gaithersburg was looking for quick counters, but any time the ball went past midfield, the Owls defense led by Nikki Cornell and Shelly Dinterman quickly controlled the situation.
"I was afraid one of those fast breaks might go in," Hooper said. "We did everything but score in the second half. We certainly had our chances."
The next stop for the Owls is a familiar one -- Goucher College. The majority of the 12 seniors on the Owls roster already have made two visits to the state playoffs, both ending in semifinal losses. "It's been a perfect season. So far, it's been everything we've asked for," Brennan said. "We have 12 seniors who have been there before. We know what we need to do."