Five minutes into Saturday’s Maryland 4A/3A state semifinal against Howard, Sherwood senior Maddie Doan took a pass from junior teammate Emily Kenul in stride and charged toward the cage. The well-rehearsed play soon ended in the team’s first goal in its inaugural state tournament appearance.
With a 17-14 victory over the Lions, Sherwood made history as the first Montgomery County team to advance to a state final, but the Warriors earned a Wednesday matchup with No. 9 Broadneck at UMBC by following a familiar script.
In her fourth varsity season, Doan has consistently provided the offensive spark on her team’s unprecedented run. With a season-high eight goals against Howard, the Virginia Tech commit passed the school record for goals in a season and enters the final with 72 scores in 16 games, all victories.
“We knew we could play with them,” Coach Kelly Hughes said, “but seeing Maddie just still being Maddie and not letting the moment get to her made everybody else want to meet that tone.”
Doan, also the Sandy Spring school’s career goals leader, has taken advantage of her opportunities. Opposing defenses have often opted to face-guard Kenul. The tactic can work to limit the Johns Hopkins recruit’s production but also opens more space for her teammates. (The explosive Kenul still has 65 goals and 36 assists this season.)
On Saturday, Doan quickly erased an early two-goal lead with back-to-back scores and had five goals by halftime. After three straight season-ending losses in the Maryland 4A/3A West final to Churchill, the midfielder appreciated her first chance to shine on the state stage.
“I knew we were going to win this game, once we got going,” said Doan, who has scored at least five goals in seven straight games. “I said, ‘My season’s not done yet. We’re not losing right here.’”
Doan, who also played basketball at Sherwood, has grown into her featured role in the offense.
Hughes was an assistant when Doan joined the Warriors as a freshman, and the coach remembers a player content to let her older teammates handle the heavy-lifting. With each season, Doan has increased her scoring, boosted in equal parts by her burgeoning confidence and on-field chemistry with Kenul.
“She’s always had the speed and athleticism and stick skills,” Hughes said. “Now she knows things that work for her, and she goes full speed with them. It’s really hard to stop her.”
Despite its perfect record, Sherwood faces long odds in its showdown with Broadneck. Teams from Anne Arundel County have won the past six straight titles at the state’s largest classification and 17 of 23 in all.
The Warriors got a taste of that level of competition when they scrimmaged eventual county champion South River in the preseason. Back then, Doan was too focused on the elusive region title to even dream of playing in a state final.
“We just want to go in and give it all we can,” Doan said. “Obviously, it’s going to be a tough game, but just the fact that we’re even getting there, it’s going to be awesome.”