CHESTERTOWN, Md. — In the aftermath of the Maryland 3A field hockey state championship Saturday, Chesapeake’s Rachel Fleig pulled teammate Mason Frechtel in for a hug.
The two-time defending state champion Cougars had just lost, 3-0, to the C. Milton Wright Mustangs at Washington College. Still, as Fleig embraced the teary-eyed Frechtel, the senior offered a wide smile and even a chuckle as she told her classmate, “It’s okay, really.”
“It’s hard for the seniors because we’re all leaving each other,” Fleig said. “But I just keep telling them: It’s all right. As a unit, I think we did all we wanted to do.
“I’m just so thankful to have come this far with this team. In the end, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
No. 10 Chesapeake (12-7) surged upfield to start the game but failed to get a shot off.
C. Milton Wright (17-1) responded with its own offensive push. Chesapeake goalie Eve Vickery batted one shot away, but senior attacker Samantha Aljets corralled a rebound and threw the ball back toward Vickery. Vickery sprawled on the turf to block that shot, Aljets again picked up the rebound and slapped it into the back of the net to give the Mustangs a 1-0 lead three minutes into the game.
From that point, the Mustangs set up camp in the Cougars’ defensive zone. Four minutes after the first strike, Aljets drew Vickery off the goal line, then passed to junior attacker Arrianna May waiting by the right post. May knocked the ball in for a 2-0 lead with 23:18 remaining in the first half.
Still, while the Cougars trailed by two goals at halftime, they remained upbeat. In a regional championship against Mount Hebron, they had trailed 1-0 at halftime but scored two goals in 30 seconds midway through the second half for a 2-1 victory. So against C. Milton Wright, the Cougars still believed they could rally.
Yet while the Cougars turned the tide in terms of possession, they could never break through.
“We kept trying to push up further and further and just couldn’t produce one,” Chesapeake Coach Joan Johnson said.
As the Cougars continued to press their luck, they left themselves vulnerable to a breakaway, and May took advantage. She snagged the ball and leaped through an open stretch of field, then sent a shot past Vickery to put the Mustangs up 3-0 with 7:57 remaining.
“We couldn’t finish,” Fleig said. “I think the nerves just got to us. None of us were communicating. But I’m proud of my team. I wouldn’t want to play with anybody else.”