The adage usually goes “offense wins games, defense wins championships.”
But on the eve of Wootton’s Maryland 4A field hockey semifinal against Dulaney on Monday night in Annapolis, Coach Kearney Blandamer chose to focus on another saying.
“Defense is something you can do brilliantly every game,” she told the Patriots. “Offense is inconsistent. It’s fickle. You can create the same opportunities game after game after game and have completely different results.”
The Patriots heeded her advice though a scoreless regulation before finally breaking though in the second overtime. Midfielder Alex Yokley’s shot to the left side of the goal on an untimed corner sealed a 1-0 win and Wootton’s first trip to the state final.
“It was amazing,” Yokley said of the late goal. “It was very frustrating to have so many shots on goal, but I knew that we would finish it.”
Junior goalie Kaile Paranzio kept Dulaney in the contest with 15 saves. Forward Allie Band had three close calls in the last 10 minutes of play and the Patriots racked up nine corners to the Lions’ one.
In the end, the goal came from the player Blandamer called Wootton’s “behind the scenes workhorse.”
“She’s a totally selfless player,” Blandamer said. “Alex is a warrior.”
While Saturday’s state title game against Severna Park (13-3-1) at Washington College will be Wootton’s first appearance in the state final, the Falcons boast a record 20 state titles. This is their fourth trip to the state tournament in five years, the one break coming last year after a loss to South River in the region final.
“The whole season has been about getting back there,” Coach Ann Andrews said. “We live and die by our senior leadership and this is what they wanted. They’re just excited to be back in the tournament.”
This was Sherwood’s (16-2) first trip to the state tournament since 1985.
“For a long time, Sherwood was a very .500 team and we really broke that mold a couple of years ago and we just keep going up,” Coach Amy Morse said.
“There’s just a tremendous amount of pride that Sherwood field hockey is finally taking off and that we’re making a name for ourselves.”
Junior transfer and Maryland commit Olivia Reiter scored two goals for Severna Park on reverse sweep shots. Senior midfielder Maeve Doherty, who will play at Columbia next year, began the scoring with a penalty stroke halfway through the first half.
“We knew from August 15, from the start of tryouts, that we wanted to get back into the state tournament and to be a contender,” Doherty said.