- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The intensity was high from the first whistle until the final sound of the ball hitting the back of the cage.
Top-seeded Patuxent hosted second-seeded Easton from Talbot County for the Class 2A South Region field hockey championship on Saturday night.
Easton head coach Maureen Lempke said she and her team were going to make the most of their three-hour drive down to Lusby, and they did with a 1-0 overtime victory when Patuxent senior goalie Breanna Stack went down trying to save another shot on goal.
“They got ranked [number] one this year and we got ranked two, same as last year, so that meant in the draw that we were going to have to come to them,” Lempke said. “Everybody had to come to us but them.”
Hurricane Sandy bumped the championship game back a few days, forcing Lempke’s squad to play third-seeded Kent Island of Queen Anne’s County in the semifinals on Friday just to face the Panthers on Saturday.
Easton won that contest and then had another scheduling issue to contend with en route to the title, with some of her players taking the SAT test on Saturday the morning.
“Some of our girls were in other field hockey tournaments,” Lempke said, “and we had three other girls that had other obligations, so we were like, ‘We’re going to do this’, because it really messed us up. We have a first-year goalie. I don’t think our goalie got beat on as much as theirs did. Their goalie had some incredible saves. I mean phenomenal saves.”
Lempke told her senior-laden team to stay wide and cut to the ball before the overtime play.
“I told them, ‘They’re getting extra time,” Lempke said, “and by the way, this is sudden-death.”
Senior Paige Gamble found the loose ball and sent it into the back of the cage about four minutes into overtime to give Easton the title and move to the state semifinals against Glenelg of Howard County, the East Region champion.
“We won last year, so we were hoping that we could do that again,” Gamble said. “We were definitely nervous and we knew it was going to be a challenge because Bennett lost to them and Bennett and us had a close game. She [Lempke] was just telling us to focus and to control the ball and not just hit it, so we could run up to hit since there wasn’t twelve of us on the field. They [Patuxent] were definitely more challenging this year, of course I’m sure they were out for blood for us since last year.”
Patuxent head coach Lynn Powell said Easton came out harder and came out on top, but she is very proud of her young team and the growth they’ve displayed this season.
“Through the middle, it was up and down the field consistently,” Powell said. “I basically just told them that they had to find their ‘fighter.’ We were talking about the 1980 Olympic hockey team and how they were a team, and that’s how they’ve been all year. It was a great game. That’s what hockey’s all about.”
Patuxent reached the championship game after a 3-0 victory over J.M. Bennett of Wicomico County on Thursday in the semifinals.
Three first-half goals sealed the deal for the Panthers in front of a lively crowd on the chilly evening.
“I’m so proud of them [for the win],” Powell said after Thursday’s game.”This is by far one of the best games that we’ve had. Everything just clicked. I told them before the game that they had been a team that had worked so well together all season and worked to improve and that was what it was going to take for them to make it. That’s what they did tonight, it’s good stuff.”
Junior attack Carrie Lake didn’t waste any time. She scored just 2 minutes 26 seconds into the game, charging the Panthers up.
Playing with a knee injury all season didn’t stop senior attack Jacquelyn Nava from pushing herself. Nava scored back-to-back goals, the first was an assist from junior attack Kelsey Stack and the second was as a result of a Patuxent penalty corner with 10:03 remaining in the first half.
“We’ve been working on give-and-goes in practice and just the relief of getting one right was great,” Stack said.
“My knee is doing OK,” Nava said. “I knew they were going to be a strong opponent. We had great passing today. It was a total team effort.”
Breanna Stack made four saves in the win.
“We had a really good practice before and I feel like we worked out whatever it was that we needed to,” Breanna Stack said.