Pikesville had the right strategy to challenge No. 5 Century in last night's state Class 2A-1A girls lacrosse championship at UMBC Stadium, but not enough firepower to prevent the Knights from winning their second straight title.
Jenny Steadman scored seven goals and Katie Schwarzmann added four as the Knights dominated the second half en route to a 15-5 victory and their third Class 2A-1A crown in four years
Last year, the Panthers fell to the Knights, 16-6, in the championship and, last night, they planned to stifle Century's quick-strike attack. Through most of the first half, the Panthers controlled a slower tempo, not allowing the Knights (16-2) to strike in transition.
"I would consider that really scouting us well," said Century coach Rose Pentz. "We are a transition team and they slowed it down right from the get-go. Obviously, we had to go after the ball. We wanted to take control. We're not used to seeing a team settle it that early on."
With the Panthers (10-7) setting the pace, they stayed within 4-2 late in the first half before the momentum turned completely in Century's favor. Steadman and Schwarzmann scored two goals off ground balls in the final 2:33 of the half.
"They were trying to slow us down," said Schwarzmann, "but we knew we had to get the ball in transition, because we have a lot of fast people and we knew we would get some easy goals off transition."
That's exactly what happened to start the second half as Steadman fed Schwarzmann and Schwarzmann returned the favor for an 8-2 lead in less than three minutes. Steadman, who came within a goal of tying the state record for most goals in a championship game, then scored an unassisted goal for a 9-2 Knights lead with 21:16 to go.
After Rebecca Kreshtool's goal brought the Panthers within six, the Knights scored five straight times to run their lead to 14-3.
Kreshtool, who had two goals and two assists, said the Knights forced them to pick up the pace in the second half.
"I don't know whether we panicked thinking about how we were down," said the junior midfielder. "We saw they were sending early doubles to us and so people weren't maybe as confident holding the ball and wanted to get rid of it. "
Steadman, an All-Metro senior, put the finishing touches on a career that includes the Carroll County record for goals with 260. She finished this season with 93 goals and 37 assists.