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Raiders field hockey drop first game of season to Severna Park in 4A East semis

Severna Park 5, Leonardtown 0

Severna Park 0 5Leonardtown 0 0Goals: Severna Park (Beairsto 2, Wells, Balliza, Valvano)Saves: Severna Park (Mata 2); Leonardtown (Sherman 7)

By JAMES A. McCRAY III

Staff writer

When the Leonardtown Raiders field hockey team sat together in a postgame huddle on Thursday afternoon, it was a time to reflect after a loss ended the season.

After an undefeated 2012 regular season, which included a SMAC championship, and after not experiencing a single loss through the Class 4A East Region quarterfinals, advancing to the region championship game and even winning it would have been icing on the cake for the Raiders, but at least there was a cake to be had.

The top-seeded Raiders dropped its home contest with fourth-seeded Severna Park of Anne Arundel County, 5-0 in the region semifinals, but after the game, it was all about remembering the accomplishments of the season, or the cake.

“Honestly, it has been a fantastic year,” senior Blake Autry said. “This team has been amazing and they are truly my second family. Every day I looked forward to coming to practice and being with my best friends. I mean, we lost tonight, but we played really hard. We won SMAC, we beat Patuxent, we did so much this season and so it’s been amazing.”

Leonardtown head coach Mia Finkelston admitted that her girls took her on an amazing ride through the season that included a 14-0 regular-season and a 1-0 double-overtime win over Chesapeake of Anne Arundel County in the quarterfinals that advanced the Raiders to the semifinals.

“It’s been incredible, it’s just been great,” Finkelston said. “It’s always tough to end with a loss, but I guess it has to happen at some point. … They surpassed my expectations for this season, they really did. Girls have grown and matured, individually and as field hockey players, too. So, I think our future continues to look good.”

Leonardtown (15-1 overall) and Severna Park played to a scoreless first half, but it was the offensive pressure of Severna Park that ultimately broke through, allowing the Falcons to score three goals in the first seven minutes of the second half.

The Falcons finished with five second-half goals and forced 12 of their game-total 19 penalty corners in the final half of play.

“There pressure was a lot, it was great and they are definitely an amazing team,” Autry said. “The game was more fast-paced than we are used to, so it took a little while for us to settle in. But I think overall we played our best, that’s all we can really ask.”

Autry is one of six seniors who Finkelston and the Raiders lose from the team this season.

Senior Adley Beairstro scored two of the five goals for Severna Park and head coach Ann Andrews, while Courtney Wells, Marissa Balliza and Jessica Valvano added the additional scores.

“We started aiming our shots on goal,” Beairstro said of the second-half scoring. “I just happened to get a couple of touches and that was nice. I think we were just hungry because we wanted it so bad.”

Andrews added on the second-half goals, “We have been hitting the goalie square, instead of placing the shots around the goal, so we have been working on moving our shots and shooting wide. I’m thinking, ‘OK, great, but maybe let’s go back to shooting on the goalie.’”

Severna Park lost in the region championship contest, 3-2 in overtime to South River, one of its country rivals

“This is a very, very strong region and it’s too bad we don’t get to come down here and play during the regular season,” Andrews said. “I think we have to rise to the level of our region. We have to work hard just to stay competitive.”

jmccray@somdnews.com