After squandering a seven-goal advantage in the championship game last spring, the Owls flipped the script, scoring 11 of the game’s final 14 goals over two days to claim their first state title. Senior Ryan Drenner paced Westminster with four goals, including the go-ahead score with 6 minutes 17 seconds remaining.
“They came in knowing we were the defending state champs,” South River senior Stephen Hincks said. “We couldn’t really do anything. We kind of fell apart in the second half. That’s all we can say. We had a good year. We came up short.”
On Wednesday night, South River (17-4) led 8-7 with 1:11 left in the second quarter when lightning stopped the action. The teams began warming up Thursday evening when another storm blew through and briefly sent them back to the locker rooms.
Westminster (19-0) had scored five of the last six goals to erase most of an early five-goal hole before the severe weather came, and the Owls finished the comeback under dark skies a day later.
After the Seahawks tied it at 10 on a goal by sophomore Gunnar Schimolar with 9:53 left, they didn’t score again.
Westminster dictated the pace after the restart and might have won more easily without a string of tough stops by South River senior goalie Jake Gavin, who made seven of his 10 saves Thursday.
Drenner fueled the decisive burst. The Towson-bound attackman raced around the crease to put in the go-ahead goal and finished the scoring on a nifty finish in front with 2:46 left.
“I don’t even know how I slept last night,” Drenner said. “I was thinking about the game all day, didn’t pay attention a single minute during school today. The only thing on my mind was I knew we had to get it done.”
South River’s offense had already begun to run out of steam on Wednesday and struggled to get on track after the restart. Seniors Matt Gaskins and C.J. Pendleton and sophomore Dylan Mansur each scored two goals to stake the Seahawks to the lead.
After a year to think over its second-half collapse against South River, Westminster earned the chance to celebrate, though the team’s trophy presentation was forced to the locker room when more lightning arrived.
“They played better than we did,” South River Coach Paul Noone said, declining further comment. “They won the state championship. They’re the champs. That’s it.”