Loch Raven's Samantha Knapp, left, loses control of the… (Staff Photo by Jen Rynda,…)
For the first time in county history, three girls' lacrosse teams reached their respective state championship games this past week.
Squads from Winters Mill, Westminster and Century high schools comprised half of the girls' field at the annual event May 24 and 25 at UMBC Stadium, in Catonsville. But only one school returned to the county with a state crown.
Winters Mill continued its domination of state-level foes, defeating Loch Raven for its third state title in the past four seasons. The lopsided 13-2 victory in a rematch of the 2010 title game allowed the Falcons to successfully defend their Class 2A-1A championship.
But frustration hit the previously-undefeated Westminster Owls, who saw their near-perfect season end with a 14-7 loss to 10-time state champion Severna Park in the Class 4A-3A championship contest. Two-time defending champion Century was denied a seventh state title in nine years by Marriotts Ridge, which handled the Knights by an 8-4 score in Class 3A-2A.
Winters Mill-Loch Raven
Over the years, the footprints of girls' lacrosse players from Winters Mill and Loch Raven have become ingrained in the artificial turf at UMBC Stadium. Entering the Class 2A-1A title game, the two programs had combined for six state titles in 11 appearances at UMBC.
Mill scored the first four goals and was never challenged, rolling to a 13-2 victory over the outmanned Raiders.
The Falcons, who finished 15-3, took their second straight Class 2A-1A title and claimed their third state championship in four years. Loch Raven which was trying to win its fifth state title, closed at 11-6.
Sophomore Sydney Trentzsch scored a game-high three goals, while senior Erin McMunn and junior Madison Cyr each contributed two goals and two assists to an efficient Falcons' offense. Senior goalkeeper Kacie Fogle, a converted midfielder, stopped four Loch Raven shots in her final high school game.
The outcome was never in question, as Winters Mill raced to a 9-1 halftime lead and cruised to another title. Cyr opened the scoring at the 22:57 mark, and the Falcons scored three more times before Christie Moyer tallied Loch Raven's first goal midway through the first half.
But a free-position goal by junior Felice Artuso started a six-goal Falcon run that put the game out of Loch Raven's reach. A standout Winters Mill defense held the Raiders to one goal in the final 39 minutes and just eight shots for the entire game.
"I don't think anybody expected us to be here, with starting two freshmen and four sophomores," said longtime Falcon head coach Courtney Vaughn, who lost three high school All-Americans from the nation's top-ranked public school team in 2010. "This group overachieved. They have the heart of a lion."
After last spring's title-game loss to the Falcons, Loch Raven head coach Wendy Mabe talked of upgrading her team's schedule to better prepare for the state tournament.
"It's amazing that we're back here, with such a young team," Mabe said. "But we're a little frustrated right now because we didn't play our game today at all. It's disappointing when you don't play well in the most important game of the season."
Century leads all county teams with five state titles, but Winters Mill is rapidly gaining ground. However, Vaughn deflected speculation that his program could ow be considered a dynasty.
"We're just a team of hard-working individuals," Vaughn said. "They've worked to get where they are. Our county and region are among the toughest in the state, and that prepares us to play here."
Fogle, who will return to the midfield next year at Liberty University, agreed with her coach's assessment.
"We are a young team," she said. "We saw the challenges ahead of us and had all the confidence in the world."
The Westminster Owls had reached the Class 4A-3A state title game twice before, losing to C. Milton Wright in 2004 and Severna Park two seasons ago. But those Owls teams didn't bring an undefeated record and the No. 1 ranking among the state's public school teams with them to UMBC Stadium.
This year's matchup with Severna Park was considered the Owls' best chance to capture their elusive first state championship.
But Westminster's history of frustration at the state tournament continued May 25 as Severna Park dominated the Owls in the second half on the way to a 14-7 victory. It was the 10th state title for Severna Park, who have beaten the Owls four consecutive times in either a state semifinal or title game.
"We had an undefeated season to this point, and our kids have nothing to hang their heads about," said Westminster coach Jackie Stevens, whose Owls finished 17-1. "Severna Park is a great program, and definitely our nemesis."
A balanced offense, led by a game-high four goals by sophomore Morgan Torggler and a three-goal, one-assist effort from senior Kendyl Gardner, paced one of the state's elite programs to another state championship. Severna Park's 10 state crowns rank second only to the 15 titles won by Mt. Hebron.