“It’s always our goal to come here and win,” Churchill forward Nicholas Carline said. “It’s a tough task. We worked hard, and we got it done.”
Bethesda-Chevy Chase (12-5) tied the score at 3 with just over seven minutes to play in the game, but Churchill (14-6-2) found an opening with 1:19 to go. Carline skated down the left side and considered shooting, but when he noticed Margel open on the opposite side, Carline passed to the junior for the goal.
“As a senior,” Carline said, “I couldn’t ask for a better finish.”
Entering this season, Churchill Coach Ray McKenzie thought his team’s MSHL reign might end. There are years he can tell his squad is talented enough to coast through the league, but that wasn’t the case this past fall. The Bulldogs had graduated key seniors and returned roughly seven players.
Churchill’s performance during the regular season didn’t change McKenzie’s mind. While the Bulldogs competed well against Montgomery County opponents, they lost to five private schools by a combined score of 33-9. Given that inconsistency, McKenzie wondered whether his squad could win four consecutive games in the playoffs.
“When the stakes got higher, they realized they had to play a certain way,” McKenzie said. “It’s hard to get that message through in the regular season. When push comes to shove and they realize if they don’t do it it’ll cost the team the game, they just do it.”
Churchill meshed at the beginning of the playoffs, and in Wednesday’s semifinal it beat Marriotts Ridge in a shootout — a game McKenzie said his team probably should have lost.
But Churchill won, and it pulled out another close victory Friday. For the ninth time in program history, the Bulldogs hoisted the championship trophy.
“[The streak] definitely motivates me a lot,” Carline said. “I definitely didn’t want to come out here and lose my last game as a senior.”