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Raiders field hockey downs Panthers

By AJ MASON

Staff writer

Nothing is brighter than being on the winning end of the scoreboard.

Wednesday night, the Leonardtown field hockey team found a much needed bright spot versus host Patuxent in a battle of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference unbeatens.

Thirteen minutes into the second half, on a Leonardtown penalty corner, sophomore midfielder Olivia Ford crossed it over to junior forward Hannah Albright.

Albright nailed a clutch shot in the back of the cage, sending the Leonardtown fan section at Patuxent’s stadium into a frenzy.

Albright’s goal would be the lone tally of the game as it eventually catapulted the Raiders to a 1-0 victory to stay unbeaten on the season.

“After we missed so many chances on our corners, I was desperate to score and I finally put one in for the team. I’m speechless right now,” Albright noted. “I got an amazing cross from Olivia, if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have been able to score. This is the best feeling in the world and to finally beat Patuxent was big for us.”

Leonardtown (12-0, 10-0 SMAC) have two more games remaining in the regular season as it looks to wrap up the program’s first SMAC title under head coach Mia Finkelston.

The Raiders will be at McDonough at 4 p.m. Monday and at Great Mills at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“Our goal is to go undefeated for the season and we’ve had to go through some great teams,” Finkelston said as the team, coaches and parents celebrated. “To win the SMAC title, you have to go through Patuxent, and that is always tough. I’m very proud of the girls; they played with a lot of heart. I’ve been wanting Hannah to score, she hadn’t scored in a while and she made a huge shot for us. After we scored the goal, the defense did a good job of holding on to the lead.”

It was the first loss of the season for Patuxent (11-1, 9-1) and head coach Lynn Powell, who have been a SMAC power, winning the last five SMAC titles.

The Panthers have two regular season games with host Lackey at 11 a.m. Saturday a makeup contest from a Sept. 7 postponement and come back home to face Huntingtown at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

They would need the Raiders to lose both of their final two games while winning their final two to keep the SMAC title streak intact.

“We’ve had trouble finishing this season,” Powell said. “But it’s our youth; we made some great passes, but we missed several shots by a inch of the goal. Leonardtown has a good program and in the second half they came out with a lot of energy.”

The Panthers dominated the first half with a 7-1 shots on goal advantage and had a 9-1 tally in penalty corner attempts, but could not convert. In the second half, it only had two shots on goal and four corner attempts.

“We just have to put this game behind us. I know the girls really wanted this one, but we have to end the season strong and get ready for the postseason,” Powell said.

In the last several minutes, senior Rachelanne Jaffee had shot a laser from 10 yards out, but Raiders senior goalie Jaclyn Sherman (9 saves) made a key save.

Sherman, whose been wearing the lucky red turbine this season to bring the team good luck, is a leader on the Leonardtown defense.

“We were focused and we’ve been preparing for this game the whole season,” Sherman said. “Everyone was ready tonight and we came out with the right mindset. Patuxent has been a very strong team and we were fortunate to come out on top.”

Leading up to the goal, the Raiders were awarded six straight corners, and had a total of 13 attempts for the game. They had 12 corner attempts in the second half.

“We had six straight corners at one point [in the second half] and we could not score,” Finkelston said. “We kept on chipping away and eventually we took advantage of our opportunity. We have great team chemistry.”

Patuxent senior goalie Bre Stack finished with a game-high 13 saves in the losing effort.

ajmason@somdnews.com