By Jeff Nelson
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, November 9, 2008
CHESTERTOWN, Md., Nov. 8 -- As Atholton sophomore Kim Markowitz ran down the left side of the field, the potential tying goal on her stick with less than a minute to play, fans from both teams stood and screamed in the Washington College bleachers.
The Raiders' final attack ultimately failed, and they lost the Maryland 3A title to Fallston, 4-3. But the very fact that such a last-minute scene took place was a surprise.
Even Atholton admitted that.
"I would think they were the odds-on favorite to win," Raiders Coach Jim Brown said, with a little smile at his understated tone.
"What I said to [my team] about two days before this game was, 'Girls, you're now back to where you're comfortable, and that's the role of the underdog. The pressure's on them. They're expected to win and we're expected to consider ourselves lucky to be here.' And we proved today we can stand toe-to-toe with them."
Fallston (19-1), the defending 3A champion, has made it to the state semifinals or final in six of the past seven years, and entered yesterday with 10 state titles.
Atholton (14-4) has never won a state championship and last made it this far in 1980.
Fallston also defeated River Hill -- the co-champion of Howard County, which is Atholton's league -- 5-1 earlier this season.
Unintimidated by that history, the Raiders scored first on Alexandra Durso's goal six minutes into the game. But that may have awoken the sluggish Cougars, who answered with three straight goals before halftime.
"Our score maybe pumped them up," senior Kelly Brown said. "Because normally when we get scored on first, we're like, 'Come on, this is important, we need to step it up.' So it probably had that effect on them."
Brown scored less than two minutes into the second half to pull Atholton within one. But Fallston responded with 11 minutes 31 seconds remaining to take a 4-2 lead.
Durso kept things interesting by scoring her second goal with five minutes left, but a few final opportunities for Atholton missed.
"It was so close," Durso said.