- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Though her Huntingtown Hurricanes field hockey team nursed a two-goal lead with less than 10 minutes remaining in Wednesday’s Class 3A South Region championship game, head coach Shannon Persetic did not count out county rival Northern, the defending region champions for another few moments, just yet.
Northern battled to get on the board, and had several breakaways in the late stages of the second half, but Huntingtown’s defense stymied numerous scoring opportunities at the cage.
As time expired, Persetic was now certain of the outcome, as the Hurricanes celebrated a 2-0 victory.
It was the fifth consecutive time that the two county rivals met each other in the region title game, with Northern winning three of the last four titles entering Wednesday.
Huntingtown (12-1-1 overall) advance to Monday’s state semifinals at Franklin High School in Reisterstown to take on the 3A North Region champion C. Milton Wright of Harford County. The time of the contest was not known at press time.
C.M. Wright, the top seed from the North’s Section II, defeated Towson of Baltimore County, 2-0, in its region final on Wednesday.
The Hurricanes, the top seed from the South’s Section I, are on a nine-game winning streak and have yielded just seven goals all season, and only one in the playoffs thus far.
It was the eighth win coming by way of shutout for Huntingtown, which returns to the state semifinals where it lost to Howard County’s Mount Hebron, 1-0 in overtime, in 2011.
“We graduated 12 seniors from a year ago and we have a young team this season,” said Persetic, whose team avenged a 1-0 loss to the Patriots in last year’s region final. “And for these girls to come out here and do what they’ve done this season, go 12-1-1 is unbelievable. They never quit and work hard with their stickwork. I have three great [assistant] coaches that work with them and the girls give back. Northern has a great team and they can come back, so we had to battle to the end.”
Huntingtown led 1-0 at halftime and was held scoreless for much of the second half until junior midfielder Annalise Thole slapped in the second goal of the contest on a assist from senior forward Lauren Alderson with 9 minutes 46 seconds remaining that help clinch the berth to states.
“We work so hard as a team and I wanted to do this for the seniors, I know this is their last year,” Thole said. “Our defense has been strong all year, I know if the ball gets past us, I know for a fact that they can get it back. Every time Northern got a fast break, we got it back.”
In the first six minutes of the game, senior forward Jodie Hyland scored on an assist from a penalty corner attempt by senior defender Shae McFarland to give Huntingtown the early lead.
“It was really exciting to score first, that got us pumped up,” said Hyland, who was on the 2011 regional title team. “We have a new team this year, since we lost a lot of seniors from a year ago. We work well together and it feels good to get a second shot at states.”
The Patriots, the South’s top seed in Section II, finished with a 9-6 overall record.
“They came out strong as expected,” said Northern head coach Nicole Kerfoot, who will be graduating six seniors this season. “They definitely have good sticks skills and work together. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season. We fought through some injuries, but the girls really played hard today. I’m very proud of them.”
Kerfoot added that next year’s group will be very youthful but will have varsity experience under their belts.
“I’m very excited for next season and we will learn from this and keep moving forward,” Kerfoot said. “We are going to get prepared for next year.”
Huntingtown junior goalie Charleen Fischer finished with four saves, while Northern sophomore Sophie Thon collected eight saves in the losing effort.
Huntingtown 2, Northern 0
Northern 0 0
Huntingtown 1 1
Goals: Huntingtown (Hyland, Thole)
Saves: Northern (Thon 8); Huntingtown (Fischer 4)