CATONSVILLE, Md. — Four years of growth in one of the area’s winningest girls’ lacrosse dynasties made lasting marks on the Severna Park seniors, and they were clearly visible during the Falcons’ run to Wednesday’s Maryland 4A/3A state championship game.
The sting of a second-round playoff exit a year ago was evident in Severna Park’s hardened determination this spring, and some wore reminders of a teammate they lost in the midst of their 2012 state title run.
Throughout the year, Falcons wore neon green head bands, and they carried neon green accents on backpacks that stood out against their traditional, navy, white and gold.
Well aware of their school’s girls’ lacrosse legacy, the Falcons’ seniors arrived at UMBC on Wednesday ready to solidify their own.
Severna Park’s seniors left their mark, lifting the Falcons to a dominant 15-5 victory over Catonsville to claim another 4A/3A championship, their third in the last four years and 11th since 1990.
“There’s a huge difference with this senior class,” Severna Park Coach Carin Peterson said. “All of the seniors really encompass what it means to be a leader.”
She and the other teammates fought adversity as they won those early titles, particularly in 2012 when goalie Rachel Vander Kolk’s twin sister and their classmate Tracy Vander Kolk died suddenly. Rachel wore a No. 15 decal on her helmet Wednesday, and several senior teammates wrote the number on the back of their hands.
Their chemistry and character molded by the challenges of the last two years, the Falcons’ seniors — including Vander Kolk, midfielders Sarah Childress and Kelsey Kirk, and Jeanne Angeles and Julianna Ricci on defense — stabilized the team (15-2) all season.
“It’s amazing,” said Vander Kolk, who explained that this year’s seniors played mostly supplemental roles in the 2011 and 2012 titles. “It really felt like this year we seniors were able to work for it, earn it for ourselves, and finish it.”
The seniors guided the Falcons to a 6-1 record in games decided by three goals or fewer and steadied the defense and midfield while an all-underclassmen attacking corps matured into an all-state caliber threat.
Sophomore midfielder Eva Klaus capped a breakout sophomore year with a brilliant championship game — she was “literally everywhere,” as Catonsville Coach Becky Cassilly put it — winning almost every draw and scoring three goals.
Klaus, classmate Laura Milleker and freshman Sarah Elms each had three goals, and seniors Childress and Kirk bolstered the young attack with three goals of their own. Vander Kolk was typically solid in net, and senior defenders Angeles and Ricci locked down Catonsville.
With about two minutes to go, the game long since determined, Severna Park held a 14-5 lead, one of the Falcons’ seniors knew Peterson usually liked them to sit on. But Peterson yelled a message to her seniors: “Fifteen’s okay!”
Not long after, Childress hit Kirk for the Falcons’ 15th goal.
“We ended with 15 in honor of my sister,” Vander Kolk said. “I think that was the best way to finish my career.
“I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to get the assist and the goal. I don’t believe in coincidences, that’s the way I live my life. It’s amazing.”