CATONSVILLE – In four years as a starting defender for the Broadneck girls’ lacrosse team, Sara Ruzzi has matched up with some of the area’s top offensive players, a role low on fanfare when the squad is playing well and much scrutinized in the more difficult moments.
But as the ninth-ranked Bruins took control in Wednesday’s Maryland 4A/3A state final against Sherwood, Ruzzi began to think about how she might get involved in the offense. The Columbia recruit doesn’t often attack the net, which made her goal late in the first half of a 21-5 victory all the more special.
Broadneck clinched its first state title since 2003 in dominating fashion. Junior Ellie McNulty registered a game-high four goals and 14 players scored, including all eight seniors who played the field.
The game featured a running clock for the final 27 minutes 33 seconds with the Bruins leading by at least 11 goals.
“I actually did really want to score,” said Ruzzi, whose sixth goal of the season drew one of the most spirited reactions of the night from her school’s cheering section. “I thought that would just top off the season. It felt so good.”
Sherwood, the first Montgomery County school to appear in a girls’ lacrosse state final, actually scored first.
The Warriors (16-1) led on a goal by senior Taylor Polhemus 66 seconds into the game.
But Broadneck (18-3) had too much firepower, exploding ahead with a run of 12 straight goals in the first half.
Junior Natalie Hendricks provided the spark with her work at the draw circle. Ruzzi’s goal in the burst made it 12-2 with 7:55 left before halftime.
By the end of the first half, most of the starting players were on the sideline, cheering on their backups.
Every player who dressed for Broadneck made an appearance before Coach Karen Tengwall re-inserted the seniors in the final minutes to soak in their first state championship.
“It means so much when you have so many different weapons on your team,” said senior Aislinn Probst, who scored all three of her goals in the first half. “Every girl on our team can go score.”
Broadneck cruised in the final, but the team navigated a winding path to the title after losing their first two games of the season.
In the Maryland 4A/3A East playoffs, the Bruins had to go through two-time defending champ Severna Park, previously unbeaten Leonardtown and county champion South River. The fifth-ranked Seahawks had beaten Broadneck twice before the Bruins turned the tables in the region final.
“We worked too hard getting out of county,” Probst said. “We worked so hard we weren’t letting it slip away from us now.”
Afterward, Sherwood looked back on its run with similar pride. After three straight losses in their region final, the Warriors passed that test and then pushed on to the state’s biggest stage.
“We still made history just by getting here,” said senior Madison Doan, a Virginia Tech recruit who scored a school-record 73 goals this season. “Of course, we wish it could have been a little closer. . . . All those girls are so talented, so every little thing that we did do right we can pat ourselves on the back for.” . . .
The 4A/3A boys’ championship game between South River and Westminster was suspended due to lightning. The game will resume at 6 p.m. Thursday at UMBC with the defending champion Seahawks (17-3) leading 8-7 with 1:11 left in the first half.