Virginia recruit Rachel Vander Kolk leads Severna Park lacrosse into region final


Severna Park’s Rachel Vander Kolk corrals a save in a scrum against South River earlier this season. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

Comebacks large and small have kind of been the Broadneck girls’ lacrosse team’s thing this season. Whether it be a five-goal first-half deficit or a couple goals late, the defending 4A/3A state champions almost always had an answer this season — mostly because teams didn’t have an answer for the Bruins’ long list of top-notch offensive talent.

But Tuesday, Severna Park (13-2) had an answer for a late Broadneck (13-4) rally, the same answer the Falcons have relied on all season — for years now, actually — and the answer they hope can lead them to the 4A/3A state title: goalie Rachel Vander Kolk.

“She is literally the main person on our team,” Severna Park’s Sarah Childress said after her team’s 12-10 win in a Maryland 4A/3A East section final. “Our attack is great, our defense is great, but if we didn’t have Rachel back there, we wouldn’t have half the wins we do because she is our wall.”


The first half of the section final was played Monday before weather forced a day’s delay. Tuesday’s half looked much like Monday’s: back and forth and up and down both on the field and on the scoreboard. When Severna Park opened up a three-goal lead with minutes remaining, Broadneck’s comeback-creating duo of Ellie McNulty and Natalie Hendricks tried to lead the charge. McNulty got a goal back and Hendricks helped on the faceoff, setting up Bruin possessions that normally turn into goals in these rally kind of moments.

But not Tuesday. Hendricks, McNulty and others got point-blank opportunities that looked sure to yield a tie or worse. Vander Kolk stopped those chances like she had several from the Bruins’ big guns throughout the first half, and the Falcons hung on for the win.

“She’s great, there’s no doubt about it,” Severna Park Coach Carin Peterson said of Vander Kolk, who’s allowed 10 or more goals only twice this season, once in the regular season to Broadneck. “She struggled against them in the second game this season, but rightfully so. Broadneck had point-blank shot and their kids can shoot…she made the saveable saves and 50 percent of the saves she shouldn’t have today.”

Broadneck interrupted the Falcons’ two-year 4A/3A state title streak last season, but after emerging from the Section I scrum this year, Severna Park is two wins away from a berth in the state championship game and a chance to win three of the last four — but the first with Vander Kolk as the unquestioned starter in net.

“Half the shots people take, they should go in,” Childress said of Vander Kolk, who made eight saves in Tuesday’s win. “She stops them every time.”

NUMBER CRUNCH: 11

The number of Maryland girls’ lacrosse titles Severna Park has won.

BREAKFAST LINKS: 

– Maycol Nunez turned in a hat trick to help Washington-Lee boys’ soccer to a crucial win over T.C. Williams

– DeMatha’s Errol Clarke came up with some clutch birdies late in his WCAC championship round at Chantilly National to take the WCAC title

– A few D.C.-area standouts were features in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd recently. Check out who here.

– Gonzaga earned its fifth-straight WCAC boys’ lacrosse title Monday. Read about it here.

– LaPlata WR Jvon Simmons committed to North Carolina Central, giving the Warriors a rare Football Championship Subdivision (of FBS) recruit

– St. John’s guard Anthony Cowan is drawing major Division I basketball interest

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: 

If you missed it, the Bishop Ireton girls won their first WCAC title Monday. Here’s what it looked like:

VIDEO OF THE DAY: 

Another pretty good goalie — St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes’s Gussie Johns — is headed to the University of Southern California next year to try to help build an emerging program.

The top ranked goalie in the country, Gussie Johns could have gone to any Division 1 lacrosse program, but wants to help build the program at USC. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: 

Lacrosse: The Maryland boys’ and girls’ lacrosse tournament heads to region finals Wednesday. Vander Kolk’s Falcons play Leonardtown, in one of 24 games Wednesday — 12 boys, 12 girls.

Golf: On the links at Chantilly National, the top golfers in the WCAC and IAC square off for the Washington Private Schools title this afternoon.

Chelsea Janes covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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Tariq Lee · May 13, 2014