The Wildcats were in a stalemate in the Maryland 4A West field hockey final Thursday night against No. 7 Wootton, and the dynamic two-way player was about to self-start after a stoppage near the top of the Wootton circle.
“I could tell my team was getting frustrated, and I was getting frustrated myself,” Rowthorn-Apel said. “I just took it and went with my gut, and just nailed it.”
Rowthorn-Apel dribbled into the circle and smashed a shot into the back of the cage, giving Walter Johnson a 2-1 double-overtime win and a berth in the state tournament for the first time since 2001.
The Wildcats (13-1), winners of 12 consecutive games, will face the Maryland 4A North champion in a state semifinal on Wednesday at Franklin High School in Reisterstown.
“The girls’ goal from the start of the season was to make it to states,” Walter Johnson Coach Erika Murray said. “I reminded them of that goal before the game, and nothing else mattered.”
The Montgomery County rivals played an incredibly even game Thursday, with each side earning scoring opportunities with little success.
Walter Johnson senior forward Katie Edgar opened the scoring late in the first half with a rebound goal after Rowthorn-Apel centered a pass into a crowd in front of the net, but Wootton (13-1-1) answered 21 seconds later with a goal by junior forward Allie Band, also off a rebound.
That was it until Rowthorn-Apel’s winner with 4 minutes 1 second left in the second overtime, ending a game that somebody had to lose.
“Tonight stings, but it was a spectacular game,” Wootton Coach Kearny Blandamer said. “What the kids are going to take away from this is that Wootton belongs.”
Earlier at Walter Johnson, in the Maryland 4A South final, Blake senior forward Caroline Wannen scored three unassisted goals in the first half to lead the Bengals (12-3) to a 3-0 win over Whitman (8-6).
Blake will return to the state tournament for the second time in four years, where it will face either No. 1 South River or No. 5 Severna Park in a state semifinal Wednesday at Franklin. South River will host Severna Park, the 20-time state champion, on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the 4A East region final.
Before Thursday, Blake had lost in the region final in each of the past two seasons.
“I just really wanted to win,” Wannen said. “I’ve been through four years of this, and the past two years we got so close but haven’t gotten back there. This is my last year and I have to give it everything.
Elsewhere, Allie Greene scored twice and Kelsey Carnahan, Amanda Chasin, Anna Murgia and Kara Scott all added goals as Poolesville (13-1) cruised to its second consecutive Maryland 2A West title with a 6-1 win over Damascus (10-4).
The Falcons will play 2A North champion Century in a state semifinal on Monday at Franklin, aiming to reach the state title game for the second year in a row.
In the Maryland 3A East final, Atholton (13-2) earned a 2-1 win over Annapolis (11-4) to clinch its first state tournament appearance since 2008 and its second since 1980. The Raiders will face the 3A South champion in a state semifinal Wednesday at Broadneck.
In the last Maryland region final featuring a local team Thursday, two-time defending state champion Glenelg (15-1) bullied its way to its fifth consecutive region crown with a 6-1 win over Howard County rival Marriotts Ridge (12-4).
The No. 2 Gladiators will face the 2A South champion in a state semifinal on Monday at Franklin.