Severna Park's players rush the field to celebrate their… (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore…)
This championship was for Tracy Vander Kolk.
The sophomore on the Severna Park girls lacrosse team died of undisclosed reasons May 10. Even though her teammates have been in mourning, the Falcons still managed to advance through the state playoffs, finding strength from one another and the support of the Anne Arundel community.
Their resilience culminated in Thursday night's Class 4A-3A state championship game at UMBC, where No. 8 Severna Park knocked off Westminster, 13-6. In the end, there were tears of sadness and joy as the Falcons defended their title and raised their 11th championship plaque in 22 years.
"The team, the parents, the community and the teams we've been playing have been phenomenal," Severna Park coach Carin Peterson said. "I couldn't ask for better girls and parents that I have. From the administration, to my parents, to my kids who I am so proud of, and the community, I thank them for everything they have done for us."
The game was a rematch of last year's final won by Severna Park, 14-7. Westminster was making its third trip to the state finals in the past four years. The Owls have yet to win a title.
Morgan Torggler led Severna Park (19-2) with five goals, Ryan Bathras added three and Kelsey Kirk and Ally Adams each had two. Falcons goalie Camille King made eight saves and stopped several shots from point-blank range. Megan Pettine led Westminster (13-5) with two goals.
"Today, we just came out together and played the best game we ever played," Torggler said. "Everybody played awesome. I expected us to all come out fired up. You could tell early in the game everyone was psyched."
After Westminster's Missy Cohen scored the opening goal two minutes into the first half, Severna Park took control by scoring seven consecutive times, including goals by Adams and Bathras 12 seconds apart. The Owls cut into the margin on goals by Pettine and Tori McDonald and trailed 7-3 at the half.
Severna Park controlled possession for much of the first half and kept the Owls on their heals with its quick transition.
"I think the transition is so important to the game, but you don't always realize it," Adams said. "If you get the ball down fast from the defensive end to the offensive end, it makes a huge difference. It wears down the other team."
The Falcons continued to dominate play in the second half and goals by Kirk and Torggler increased the lead to 9-3 with 20 minutes left. After Carolyn Jamison pulled Westminster to within five with 16:31 remaining, Torggler answered four minutes later with her fourth goal of the game. Another goal by Torggler and Abby Walker's tally increased the lead to 12-5.
"I'm very proud of my girls," Westminster coach Jackie Stevens said. "I know it's frustrating for them, especially the seniors, to be the third time here in four years. But it's still an acomplishment. There's nothing wrong with being second in the state."
Class 4A-3A Girls Lacrosse Championship
No. 6 Severna Park 13, Westminster 6
Goals: W-Pettine 2, Cohen, McDonald, Jamison, Macera; SP- Torggler 5, Bathras 3, Kirk 2, Adams 2, Walker.
Assists: W-Pettine 2, Murphy; SP- Torggler 2, Ricci, Lloyd
Saves: W- Russel 6, Poisal 3; SP-King 8
Half: SP 7-3