Broadneck's Allie Johnson stayed in the locker room as long as she could, knowing that when she exited the field house she would leave an illustrious high school career behind.
The senior midfielder was the last of Broadneck's teary-eyed girls' lacrosse players to emerge from the dimly lit room about 20 minutes after a heartbreaking 14-13 loss to visiting South River in the Maryland 4A/3A East Region final Saturday.
It was a playoff game that won't soon be forgotten by anyone in attendance: It was decided as time expired in overtime with the third goal in 29 seconds.
Not until the referee blew his whistle just after a shot by South River senior attack Frannie Sullivan found the back of the goal did Johnson realize her high school career and the Bruins' hopes for a third consecutive state title were over.
"It was such a tough loss, but what hurts the most is that I don't get to be around my teammates who I've been so close to," said Johnson, a four-year starter who will play next season for Duke. "Playing sports at Broadneck has been such a big part of my life, and I've made some great friends. I'm sad to see it end this way."
Though Broadneck was unable to become the second school to win three consecutive state titles in the state's largest classification, the Bruins experienced plenty of success this season. They finished at 15-3 and earned their first Anne Arundel County title by defeating South River, 13-6, earlier this month, and they defeated rival Severn Park twice -- including 11-10 in the region semifinals on May 21.
"Winning the county championship is something we're very proud of, and I'm sure it's something we're always going to remember," said Broadneck senior midfielder Caroline Coe, who next year will attend Richmond, where she will try to make the team as a walk-on. "We really worked hard all season, and it's been fun playing together. We were confident that any game we played we would find a way to pull out a win."
And against South River in the region final, it appeared Broadneck was destined to win another close game. The Bruins rallied from an early four-goal deficit before staging an even more dramatic comeback in the final minute. Coe scored off a pass from Johnson to tie the game at 11 with 40 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Bruins continued their late-game heroics minutes later: After Sullivan scored with 29 seconds remaining in overtime, Coe ran down the field and tied the game at 13 with 11 seconds remaining.
"We got to the point that we had come this far and fought back so many times and we never gave up," said Johnson, who posted three goals and two assists. "I think we all thought we were going to find a way to win."
But it was South River who found it that evening. Following the ensuing draw, South River (14-2) was awarded possession after the ball went out of bounds. Sophomore midfielder Natalie Cullers passed the ball to senior midfielder Jen May, who drew a double-team and passed to a wide-open Sullivan. Her goal sent the South River bench storming onto the field to celebrate the team's first state tournament berth in three years.
"That's the best part about it: We beat Broadneck," said May, whose own high school career ended two days later in a state 4A/3A semifinal loss to C.M. Wright. The final was set for Wednesday at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, too late to be included in this edition.