Great Mills junior Faith Wassink displayed conflicting emotions Monday as she walked off the overcast field at Goucher College, where the Hornets lost, 1-0, to South Carroll in the Maryland 3A field hockey semifinals. Like her teammates, disappointment weighed heavily in her words, but there also was a tinge of anger in her voice, followed by a lift of hopefulness.

Maybe Great Mills will be back next year.

"No one expected us to be here; you don't know how much we improved from last year," Wassink said. "We have the most wins in school history. We could have just as good a team if not better next year."

Great Mills closed the season 14-3-1, with two more victories than the Hornets' state quarterfinalist team of two years ago. Great Mills's final victory this season, 1-0 over previously undefeated SMAC champion Northern in the 3A South Region final, may have been its sweetest.

"South Carroll plays like Northern; they gave us the exact same problems," senior goalkeeper Amber Cutchember said. "They did a good job of clogging up our lanes. They sent their whole team down to the goal, and we weren't ready for that."

South Carroll junior Allie Armitage swooped in from the left side of the field to score the lone goal off an assist from sophomore Liz Fries with three seconds left in the first half.

The Cavaliers maintained consistent pressure on Great Mills's defense throughout the game and crammed the Hornets' side of the field with as many players as possible. The Cavaliers bombarded Cutchember with 15 shots and picked up 10 penalty corners, a majority of which came in the first half. Great Mills took one shot on goal and one penalty corner in the second half to end the game with four shots on goal and three penalty corners.

"I'm proud of the girls that they got this far," Great Mills Coach Michelle Richmond said. "But we did not play our game today for 60 minutes."

South Carroll's pressure forced Great Mills to respond with a more defensive lineup. Great Mills's defense made things difficult for the Cavaliers' offense, but the Hornets could not generate many successful clears.

Competing in states "was a big motivation for us, and over the summer we worked really hard," Wassink said.

"We may have been a little awestruck, but we just didn't do what we know how to do."

South Carroll's Brittany Woodfield, left, battles for ball against Betsy Lampo of Great Mills, which finished 14-3-1 for most victories in school history.