Given Bethesda-Chevy Chase's familiarity with state field hockey championships, Coach Amy Wood's longstanding rule seems a bit out of place.
Players are forbidden to utter the words "state championship" until that game looms on the horizon.
Following the Barons' 3-0 Maryland 2A semifinal win over J.M. Bennett yesterday at Goucher College in Towson, B-CC's players didn't just talk about it, they yelled and screamed about their impending date in the state championship game.
"We never look ahead," said senior Katie Lee, who scored the Barons' first goal yesterday. "There are so many different things you have to go through before you get to the state championship game. If we look ahead, that's just arrogance, overconfidence -- it's just pointless."
If any team could be forgiven for such actions, it would be the Barons, winners of a national-record eight straight state championships, and the owners of 11 state titles overall.
The Barons (11-1-2) will get a chance for a ninth straight title at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Goucher College against Towson (16-1), which beat Centennial (14-4) in the other semifinal.
Towson beat Centennial, 3-1, in strokes after the teams remained tied after 60 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods, marking the second straight season that Centennial had been eliminated from the state semifinals in strokes.
Senior Alex Hope gave Centennial a 1-0 lead with 24 minutes 59 seconds remaining in the second half, but the Generals answered right back, tying the game on a goal by senior Meg Rector with 23:05 left.
"It's so hard," Centennial senior Nadia Clendening said. "It's not like disbelief, but it's just frustrating. You work so hard the whole entire game.
"I personally thought we dominated. For it to come down to that again is just so frustrating."
There was no such drama in B-CC's win over J.M. Bennett (9-6). Lee scored 4:53 into the game, and the Barons overwhelmed the Salisbury school with precision passing and a relentless attack, earning 21 penalty corners and peppering goalkeeper Deanna Schloemer with 14 shots.
"We are playing well enough to get there and we have earned the right," Wood said. "We never talk about it. I never mention the word. We call it earning the right. Well, we earned four more days and the right to talk about the state championship."
Just minutes after being consoled by teammates for missing a penalty stroke, Poolesville forward Melissa Martin made sure history did not repeat itself.
Martin's score sparked a three-goal second half rally for No. 8 Poolesville, which beat Pocomoke, 3-1, and will face Rising Sun in Saturday's final.
"I think the first goal kind of set everything up," Martin said. "We're so excited, we wanted this last year, and the whole time this year. I think we're ready to go and ready to win."
Despite Poolesville (11-1) controlling the momentum for almost the entire game, the Falcons found themselves behind, 1-0, in the second half to the team that had knocked them out of the state semifinals last season.
"It was so frustrating," said Poolesville junior Courtney Horan, who scored the game-clinching goal on a penalty stroke late in the second half. "I thought we were never going to get it in, but we did."
Richard Montgomery fell to defending champion Fallston, 1-0.
The Cougars controlled much of the play, but junior Kim Ziegler scored despite a strong defensive effort from Fallston, which did not allow a shot to the Rockets (6-6-1).
"We just need to get more shots, we need to put pressure on the keeper," Richard Montgomery Coach Sissy Natoli said. "The second half they played great defense, we just didn't get enough quality hits at the right time."
In Friday's 3A final, Fallston will face South Carroll, which scored with three seconds left in the first half to beat Great Mills, 1-0.