Maryland 3A field hockey: Atholton captures its first state title

November 10, 2012

Atholton goalie Emily Clinch knew she needed to stay tough.

Clinch’s Raiders had taken a 2-0 lead into halftime of Saturday’s Maryland 3A field hockey final.But six-time state champion Hereford scored 3 minutes 8 seconds into the second half, and spent most of the rest of regulation on the Raiders’ end of the field.

“We have a really good defense so we all just had to work together,” Clinch said. “We all had to pull through.”

Clinch made eight of her nine saves in the second half, and Atholton’s defense killed seven second-half penalty corners to hold on for a tight 2-1 win at Washington College to earn the first state field hockey championship in school history.

The Raiders (15-2) won their last seven games of the season, and stifled a previously undefeated Hereford team that had averaged nearly four goals per game entering Saturday.

“We played more people back on defense than we usually do,” Atholton Coach Martie Dyer said. “We needed to keep the score where it was.”

Atholton controlled possession for most of the first half Saturday, and scored both its goals in a stretch of less than three minutes late in the period.

Senior forward Briana Stine scored first with 11:53 remaining in the first half, when Rachel Day’s long shot after a corner deflected out to Stine and she put in the rebound.

Day made it 2-0 with 9:34 left in the half with a backhand shot that slipped just inside the right post.

“That eased the nerves,” Dyer said.

The Raiders’ defense took over in the second half after Hereford senior Mary Claire Abbott cut the lead to 2-1 with 26:52 to play.

Dyer kept two-way player Sheila O’Malley in tight to defend, and O’Malley, Nikki Martin and Gina D’Asto were stellar in front of Clinch the rest of the way.

Hereford’s best chance came with 4:22 remaining when a long shot was ruled not to have been touched inside the circle and disallowed, and Atholton celebrated its first title with an emotional pile on Clinch at the top of her circle minutes later.

“It’s amazing,” Clinch said. “Our team is so close. We’re all just a family.”

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