The season may have ended in a way that the Calvert field hockey team would rather forget, but the finish doesn't diminish a year worth remembering.

"We did a lot more than people thought we would," Coach Nicole Wilson said moments after her Cavaliers lost, 2-1, to Long Reach in the Maryland 3A semifinals Monday at Goucher College in Towson. "And the only reason we made it this far was because we believed we could."

For the first time in school history, the Cavaliers finished the regular season undefeated, going 10-0-2 with ties against Thomas Stone and Leonardtown. The winning continued in the 3A South tournament, as the Cavaliers beat Thomas Stone, 2-1, in the first round before shutting out Westlake, McDonough and La Plata to claim the region title.

The Cavaliers had only two scorers in double digits this season (seniors Caitlin Galligan and Meagan Green had 13 and 11 goals, respectively), but it didn't matter.

The Cavaliers came within one game of playing for the state title because of their defense. Calvert gave up five goals all season, two of them in Monday's loss.

"I'd say giving up only five goals in 17 games said a lot about our defense," said Wilson, whose team finished 14-1-2. "In close games, our defense led us to the win."

And the leader was sophomore goalie Rachel Clagett, who before Monday had allowed just two goals and had shutouts in 13 of the Cavaliers' 16 games, including eight straight to open the season.

Clagett's best performance of the year came last Friday, in Calvert's victory over La Plata in the region title game. With the score tied at 0 after regulation and overtime, the game went to penalty strokes--in which the goalkeeper faces up to five shots from opponents seven yards away. Clagett stopped all four La Plata shots to give the Cavaliers a 2-0 shootout win.

"All season long, my defense saved me a lot out there; I couldn't have done it without them," Clagett said. "We had a great season--except for [Monday]. Even though we lost, I thought we learned a lot for next year."

Though Calvert will lose its two top scorers, Clagett and junior center midfielder Hilary Linsenbigler (five goals, six assists) should lead a group of 16 returners.

"We have a lot of experience coming back," Linsenbigler said. "After this year, I think we now have the experience to win state."

Long Reach seniors Jessica Burkhardt and Shannon Woodward scored in Monday's game, and the Lightning, in its fourth year of existence, will play defending champion Fallston in the final Saturday.

"With a solid foundation coming back, we're not only going to be good next year, but for the next two years," said Wilson, who will return for her fifth season with an overall record of 60-8-5. "I couldn't be more proud of the way this team stuck together and stayed focused, but we have a lot to be optimistic about."

CAPTION: Long Reach's Jessica Burkhardt, right, strokes the ball past Calvert's Ashley Umphrey. The Cavalier defense surrendered only five goals all season.

CAPTION: Calvert's Rachel Clagett, right, blocks a first-half shot by Long Reach's Shannon Woodward during state 3A semifinal.

CAPTION: Calvert's Meriel Linsenbigler, left, and Long Reach's Bridgette Burkhardt fight for possession of the ball during the first half of Monday's 3A state semifinal game at Goucher College in Towson.