Lil Shelton clasped her hands together three times for a celebration that, by most accounts, would seem reserved for the situation. Only a few steps to her right, Severna Park's players hopped and bounced like giddy kindergarteners watching the seconds tick off the clock.
The scene was a subtle reminder -- while this was Shelton's 15th state title as coach of the Falcons, for many of her players, it was their first.
One of those players, sophomore Allison Behringer, scored a goal and added an assist as No. 2 Severna Park, a team with only four seniors, defeated Fallston last night, 2-0, in the Maryland 3A field hockey final at the University of Maryland.
"That's the whole thing, to see these seniors go away when they have been the best seniors ever -- I could just cry talking about these girls," Shelton said. "The first thing you think about is [the first day of practice on] August 15th, and we talk about going to states. 'Tuck it in the back of your head, because that's where you're going.' "
The victory capped a season marked by sheer dominance for the Falcons (19-1). They defeated a laundry list of top-tier opponents this season, including top-ranked St. Stephen's/St. Agnes, No. 8 Mount Hebron, No. 9 Broadneck and 4A champion South River (twice).
With nine state titles of its own heading into the game, Fallston (15-5) was one of the few teams in the state that could match Severna Park in terms of history. But like so many teams that tried to knock off the Falcons this season, the Cougars couldn't match Severna Park's offensive arsenal.
Backed up in their own end early on, the Falcons started clicking late in the first half and grabbed a 1-0 lead off their first penalty corner. Behringer cradled the inbound pass and lightly tapped it left to Amanda Himmelheber, who blasted in a shot with 11 minutes 31 seconds left in the first half.
Himmelheber's goal was all the Falcons really needed. The Severna Park defense allowed only one shot on goal, and it came early in the first half. From there, Severna Park controlled possession and repeatedly denied Fallston entrance into the circle.
Behringer was a factor again in the second half, when she corralled the ball at the top of the circle and fired it into the cage. With the goal, Severna Park was on its way to erasing the bitter memories of its 2-1 loss to Bethesda-Chevy Chase in last year's final.
"I think that loss helped greatly," Himmelheber said. "I thought about it all night, and I told myself I was never going to let it happen again."