Stuart coaches Urbana with her mother, A.J. Stuart, who started the school’s field hockey program in 1994. The younger Stuart said witnessing the team’s victory over River Hill was “something really special to be part of as a coach.”
The older Stuart called the season a “milestone.”
“I thought they came out a little bit nervous in the beginning,” A.J. Stuart said. “But they made the adjustments they needed to make, and we were able to get some girls in scoring position.”
Urbana (13-1) was finally able to unlock a formidable River Hill defense with six minutes left in the first half. Sophomore forward Kasey Beach knocked in Urbana’s first goal after two attempted penalty corners amid a scramble play.
Urbana doubled the lead two minutes into the second half off a shot by junior attacker Kylie Caretti. River Hill (8-5-1) responded with a goal of its own — a long shot by freshman midfielder Puja Nanjappa.
But the offensive distribution of Urbana junior midfielders Maggie Goodwin, Zoe Nelson and Emma Purcell was too much for River Hill. Urbana closed the evening with a third goal by senior attacker Maddy Hillman.
“I knew we could definitely win this game,” said Goodwin, a team captain. “But I understand where some of the nerves were coming from. None of our girls have been in this situation before.
“I actually moved to Urbana because I wanted the opportunity to get to states. “And I’m so glad we’re doing that.”
Owls hold off Hurricanes
Urbana’s victory sets up a showdown against state powerhouse Westminster, which held off the Hurricanes in the night’s second semifinal. The Owls are seeking their 10th state title.
“Before the match, I told my team this is why we practice all season,” Westminster Coach Laurie Naill. “One more game and then states, so you’ve got to leave it out on the field.”
Westminster (10-4) was the first to score off a shot by senior attacker Audrey Detrow. Close shots were taken by both sides before Huntingtown (13-1) got an equalizer when senior attacker Alexa Zeruto pushed in a goal that forced a 10-minute overtime.
Westminster did not need the full time to clinch the win. Iin the first three minutes of the extra time, freshman attacker Jess Kent delivered the winner.
For the Owls, this year will be a chance for redemption after last year’s loss in the state final.