CHESTERTOWN, Md. — Patuxent field hockey Coach Lynn Powell told her team that the only thing more difficult than winning the first state championship in program history would be successfully defending the title this season.
“We knew it would be really hard to come off that and try to repeat it,” Powell said. “It’s almost impossible.”
The Panthers, who returned to the Maryland 1A state championship game with a 15-0 record after conceding just two goals all season, couldn’t achieve their lofty goal: They fell to South Carroll, 2-0, on Saturday at Washington College. The Cavaliers captured the fifth title in program history but their first since 2002.
In a back-and-forth first half, the Panthers couldn’t gain an early edge. Freshman Riley Eells raced upfield several times to kick-start Patuxent’s offense, but after 10 minutes and two penalty corners, Powell called a timeout.
From that point, South Carroll (11-8) took over. Late in the first half, Cavaliers senior attacker Abbey Behn finished off a rebound that eluded Patuxent senior goalie Chloe South, but it was waved off after a Cavaliers player kicked the ball.
“I have to be focused the entire time,” South said. “There were shots that came from them that I did not expect.”
The Cavaliers continued to press the issue in the second half, finally breaking through when junior attacker Julia Weiss finished a cross into the box from senior attacker Grace Fipps.
This game was South’s toughest challenge of the season. She led the Panthers to 13 shutouts, and the state championship game was the first time Patuxent had trailed all season.
“We push her at practice,” Powell said. “When postseason comes, it’s pretty much her show, and we know that. [In the state semifinal], we tightened up on defense in the second half, and Chloe saved us a couple times.”
Desperate for a goal to tie it, Patuxent ramped up its offense as time wound down, firing everything it could at South Carroll goalkeeper Rachel Hagler. But with 30 seconds left, South Carroll junior attacker Rachel Linn stole the ball, ran toward the Patuxent goal and sent a shot at South. South blocked the ball away, but Fipps got the rebound and put it into the goal.
As the Panthers lined up to receive their second-place medals, Powell hugged each player as she sobbed on her shoulders.
“Win or lose,” Powell said, “it’s over.”
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