Goalie Anne Anderson and the rest of Northern's defense saw all they cared to of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase offense in Monday's Maryland 3A semifinal.
The Barons earned 24 penalty corners, but the Patriots had a defensive answer for almost every one before succumbing, 2-1, in overtime at Howard High School in Ellicott City.
"It was very nerve-wracking," said Anderson, who made 23 saves before allowing the overtime winner to B-CC sophomore Shay Smith with 3 minutes 52 seconds to play in the first overtime. The Barons kept "coming again and again. We have a good defense, so we got it out of there a lot."
The defense for the Patriots (13-5) had kept them in games all season. They won four of their first five games by 1-0 scores -- the same total that was good enough to beat SMAC rival La Plata in the regional final and lock up Northern's first state tournament appearance since 2001.
The postseason history of the Barons is far more impressive. Monday's win moved them to the state title game for the 11th straight year. However, the play of the Patriots at both ends of the field more than got B-CC's attention.
"When it's a game of this dimension and the end result is going to the state final, there's a little bit of panic," B-CC Coach Amy Wood said. "You could see it on the [penalty] corners, you could see it picking up the ball in the circle. . . . I thought their defense was really tough. I was talking to one of the forwards and she said, 'They're just blocking everything up.' "
With the defense doing its job, the Patriots still had to manage a goal to force overtime, which looked like a tall order after standout senior forward Marci Erdman (six goals, team-high six assists on the season) left with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.
But Northern controlled the early part of the second half, at one point winning three straight penalty corners. The final one allowed Brittany Hawkins to move to the front of the cage and tie the game about 10 minutes after halftime.
Once the field opened up in overtime, the Barons returned to the attack and finally ended Northern's outstanding season.
"We worked hard all season, and people from our county didn't think we were going to make it this far. I'm really proud that we came out and showed everyone that we can do it," senior defender Nicole Kerfoot said. "They were a really good team. I thought we could have held them off a bit longer, but they're a really good team."
Patuxent Is Getting Closer
The result didn't change for Patuxent this season against South River. The gap, however, is certainly closing.
Riding the strength of the SMAC championship, the Panthers had hoped to avenge last year's 9-0 humbling run-in with the Seahawks in Friday's regional final. This time, the margin was only 3-0.
"The girls went in there trying to make up for that [loss] and redeem themselves and all that," Patuxent Coach Lynn Powell said. "The intimidation factor is still there. South River's about all we hear about down here."
The Panthers have good reason to think they will be able to defend their SMAC title next season with the return of some core players and move into the state tournament for the first time in school history.
Junior Tasha Klares is one of the league's best defenders, and junior forward Mary Strain is coming off a season in which she scored seven goals.
Powell, however, is losing 11 seniors.
"I have a lot of seniors this year, but I have some really, really strong players that are juniors," said Powell, whose team was 3-8 in her first season five years ago. "It's hard to teach kids to win, to teach them to want to win. These seniors would not accept anything different. They have created a program here. . . . They've created a program that does not accept losing -- that does not accept second place."