In the Sherwood huddle after the Warriors’ 11-8 loss to Catonsville in a Maryland 4A/3A state semifinal Saturday, there were no heads in hands, no tears sliding through already smeared eye black. A few players threw arms around each other, some of them shared smiles and others even let out a few whoops at Northeast High in Pasadena.
“At the end of the day, if you did something you’re proud of, if the game wasn’t a blowout and you knew you had a chance to win that game, it’s easy not to be upset,” Sherwood Coach Kelly Hughes said. “If you know you deserve to be here, it’s easy to walk away.”
The Warriors put together an early offensive onslaught and showed late resilience against the Comets, so no one in their huddle — particularly the three senior captains who led the team’s recent emergence — had need for regret.
Until Sherwood last season, no Montgomery County team had made a state championship game. Until Sherwood this season, no Montgomery County team had carried expectations of getting back.
But even with the loss of key defensive players to graduation, the Warriors (13-2) charged back to the state tournament. They proved themselves better than Montgomery County competition and beat Howard County’s 4A/3A best, but then they ran into Catonsville’s stifling defense. The Comets held Sherwood scoreless for more than 22 minutes in the middle of the game, controlling draws to open up a 10-5 lead in the second half.
“I think once they got a couple goals, we might’ve started to hang our heads a little bit,” said senior Emily Kenul, one of the most prolific scorers ever in Montgomery County girls’ lacrosse. “That went away at the end of the game when we really started to pick it up, but they’re a great team, they have great stickwork and work well together.”
The Comets keyed on Kenul, who led Sherwood with 67 goals and 37 assists coming into the state tournament, holding her to two goals and an assist. Fellow captain Natalie Sebeck added two goals and three assists, and the other member of that senior captain trio, Kristen Lauda, added a goal. Those three had a hand in every one of Sherwood’s goals in their final game together.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” said Sebeck, whose Warriors didn’t lose a game to Montgomery County competition in two years. “I’m so proud of everything we do on the field, but I’m more proud of the relationships we’ve built off the field. These are my best friends, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
After the game, Hughes encouraged her team to remember the last five minutes of the game, when the Warriors bounced back from that lengthy scoreless stretch with three quick goals, two from Sebeck and one from Kenul.
“I really think had there been a few moments in the game that had been different, there could have been a different outcome,” Hughes said. “That’s a great thing to be able to say.”