Maryland 4A field hockey
Severna Park wins fifth straight title
CHESTERTOWN, MD. -- Of all the qualities that have made Severna Park the most successful field hockey program in the state, the one that propelled the Falcons to a 19th championship Saturday can be best described by paraphrasing the Incredible Hulk:
You won't like them when they're angry.
After surrendering the 4A title game's first goal midway through the second half, the Falcons got mad, and then got to work, scoring twice to overtake Westminster, 2-1.
"When we go down a goal, it's like, 'What are we doing? We have to score. We can't lose in the state championship!' " said Falcons senior Jaclyn Anspach, who recorded the game-winner with 1 minute 42 seconds remaining. "It really pumped up our adrenaline."
Severna Park (17-2), which rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits against South River in the 4A East region title game, evened Saturday's contest less than two minutes after Westminster took the lead. Anspach assisted on the tying goal, setting up senior forward Hannah Balleza.
From there, the Falcons controlled the game and applied constant pressure on the Owls (18-1). It finally paid off on a penalty corner, when Balleza found Anspach on a pass that slid past the Westminster goalie and gave the forward an open net.
"I knew going on the other side to do a corner would be perfect because we practice those all the time," Anspach said, "and when Hannah touched it to me, I knew I had to get it in."
Westminster had a pair of first-half chances to score that were thwarted by the Falcons' defense. The first came when senior goalie Ashley Dalisera made a save, but could only watch as the Owls put a rebound back toward an open area of the goal. Severna Park junior Emily Pensyl alertly put her stick down and swiped it away.
Later in the half, a similar situation unfolded, with senior Kristen Miller in the right spot to save a goal.
"I dove with my reverse stick out and pushed it out of bounds," Miller said. "It was awesome. It was really, really cool. I just switched to defense this year [from forward], so it was the highlight for me."
The Owls eventually did break through with 17 minutes to play in the game, but that 1-0 lead didn't last long against an angry Falcons team.
"You don't want to lose when you know you can win," Balleza said, "so when we're down, we just bring it. We give it all we have."