CATONSVILLE — Marriotts Ridge was not supposed to be the most poised team on the field in Tuesday’s 3A/2A state championship at UMBC. The Mustangs were playing in their first state final, while Century had won five titles, including the past two.
But the Mustangs had done their film study and knew what to expect from their opponent, and Coach Natalie Gaieski said they seemed unusually calm in the lead-up to the game.
“I remember sitting there at practice yesterday and listening to our defense huddle up and say, ‘Okay, if No. 20 does this, this is what we’re going to do,’ ” Gaieski said. “So they had a game plan and they were confident. They knew they were going to come in and win this game and that’s different than before.”
The preparation paid off in an 8-4 win that shocked Century Coach Becky Trumbo.
“For us to be held to four goals, we had to have been playing a very good team,” Trumbo said.
Then came a key stretch to start the second half, beginning with a Stephanie Ortell save.
Ortell, the successor to current Maryland goalie Abbey Clipp, was distraught after letting in a late goal in Friday’s 8-7 semifinal win against Fallston. But Tuesday she was composed and confident, finishing with more saves (six) than goals allowed.
“Sometimes when I get down, I get really out of it,” Ortell said. “I knew this time that couldn’t happen.”
Ortell’s save was followed by Grote’s third goal. Then the Mustangs’ top offensive player, sophomore Zoe Stukenberg, hustled back and took a key charge defensively and Grote assisted on Maskell’s second goal.
In minutes, Century went from possibly tying the score to facing a 6-3 deficit.
“I feel like we were just getting a little bit in their heads,” Stukenberg said.
Alanna Diffendal and Emily Cooke added the last goals for Marriotts Ridge — an appropriate ending for two of the team’s longtime leaders who both finished with more than 40 on the season.
Minutes later they were flinging their sticks to the turf at Retriever Stadium and rushing back to revel with Ortell in their team’s first state championship.