REISTERSTOWN — Late in the first half of its Maryland 4A semifinal Wednesday night, the South River field hockey team needed to wake up.
The top-ranked 4A East champions had just given up a Blake goal on a play where they were outworked near their own cage, and they suddenly found themselves tied with a scrappy Bengals squad despite dominating possession and controlling play.
“They scored on us and we were like ‘What’s going on?’ ” South River senior forward Abbey Lawrence said. “We knew we had to push it, so we came out in the next 30 seconds and scored and that gave us the momentum.”
Senior forward Jennie Milligan scored on the Seahawks’ next trip down the field, and South River added two more goals in the final two minutes of the first half on the way to an 8-1 win against Blake at Franklin High.
Lawrence and Milligan each recorded a hat trick for South River (16-1-1), which will play 4A North champion Catonsville in the 4A championship game Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Washington College in Chestertown.
Blake — the 4A South champions — finished 12-4.
“This group of girls really wants it,” South River Coach Katie Corcoran said. “This has been their goal all year and they’ve really strived and met every goal they’ve [set].”
South River outshot Blake, 21-5, on Wednesday and earned 17 penalty corners, but had managed just a penalty-stroke goal by Lawrence by the time junior Victoria Wolsh tied it for Blake with six minutes to play in the half.
“We have one more game left in our season,” Milligan said. “We just have to finish it off.”
In the second semifinal at Franklin, 4A West champion Walter Johnson took a 1-0 lead into halftime, but allowed two unanswered second-half goals and lost, 2-1, to 4A North champion Catonsville.
The loss snapped the Wildcats’ 12-game winning streak. Walter Johnson (13-2) was making its first state tournament appearance since 2001.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to make it to states, and we made it,” junior midfielder Anna Rowthorn-Apel said. “We’ve just come so far.”
Rowthorn-Apel scored her team-leading 24th goal of the season from the top of the circle after a corner with 15 minutes 6 seconds to play in the first half, but Walter Johnson managed just two more shots on goal the entire game.
Catonsville junior forward Brooke Stevens scored short side after a long run down the right side with 18:37 to play in regulation, and senior forward Grace Campbell scored the game-winner for the Comets (12-3) almost exactly five minutes later.