Fallston was hoping to become the second girls lacrosse team from Harford County to pull off a monumental upset in a state final, following in the footsteps of Bel Air’s stunning take-down of No. 5 Severna Park a night earlier at Stevenson University in the Class 4A/3A state championship game.
After all, the 19th-ranked Cougars had edged the Bobcats, 9-8, in late April.
However, No. 6 Century, Fallston’s opponent in the Class 2A/1A finale at the same site, was not about to fall prey in a similar fashion on Wednesday night in Owings Mills.
Despite meeting plenty of resistance from Fallston, the Knights (17-3) simply had too much firepower to wilt during their bid for the program’s eighth state crown. They defeated the Cougars, 13-5.
“No, we din’t think about it like that,” Fallston coach Michael McTeague answered when asked if Bel Air’s win over Severna Park had an impact on his squad. “We’ve had some really good games against some really good teams this season. Being able to beat Bel Air just means we played really well that game. We just didn’t really bring that ‘A’ game (against Century).”
Yet to be sure, McTeague was looking for a positive result.
“It was a tough loss,” McTeague said. “We were hoping to come in and perform better. That’s not to take any credit away from Century. They were excellent ball handlers and patient — and we just gave them too many possessions.”
Still, Century had some trouble pulling away from the Cougars (14-4) after leading scorer Michaela Connolly (73 goals, 91 assists this season) staked the Carroll County power to a 1-0 lead less than four minutes after the opening draw.
Fallston drew even on a goal by junior attacker Sarah Dudick less than a minute later before goals by Connolly and freshman Christina Haspert propelled the Knights to a 3-1 advantage.
Senior attacker Emily Solak answered to pull the Cougars within a goal until freshman midfielder Grace Bruce netted a free position shot to restore Century’s two-goal cushion.
Fallston senior attacker Zoe Hurlburt cut into the deficit again on a quick dodge through the arc, although, at 4-3, the Cougars would get no closer.
A 3-0 run on a pair of goals by Bruce and one by senior attacker Julia Hatmaker was the springboard the Knights needed to pull away for good.
They led, 7-4, at the half and notched the first four goals of the final period by Bruce, Hatmaker, Haspert and Connolly to put significant distance between themselves and Fallston.
Playing tight defense in front of senior goalie Hannah Basso, Century was not vulnerable to giving up its big lead in the second half.
“Fallston did a great job of spreading out when the had the ball, taking us out of our ‘backer’ defense,” said Century coach Becky Groves. “We were pushing out on them early and trying to cut off off the adjacent (pass), but they were spread out too far. They got a couple of goals and I said, ‘Uh, uh, we have to come out of that,’ so we made the adjustment.”
Although Connolly, who tied Bruce with six points in the contest, is by far the Knights’ leading offensive option.
Yet she she knows the team boasts plenty of other scoring options.
“Having a lot of trust in each other is really an important part of our game,” the Duquesne commit said.
And having a goalie (senior Hannah Basso) who turned away all five of the Cougars’ free positions was also a key component of the victory.
“I think we didn’t learn from our mistakes,” Brennan said. “Sometimes on the free positions we shot at the goalie’s feet, and we didn’t learn from that. It’s something that could have been worked on.”
“I think the excitement kind of got into our heads a little bit,” Hurlburt added. “We didn’t think much about placing it, and just kind of threw it in there.”
2A/1A GIRLS LACROSSE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
(AT STEVENSON UNIVERSITY)
NO. 6 CENTURY 13, No. 19 FALLSTON 5
FALLSTON 4 1 — 5
CENTURY 7 6 — 13
GOALS: F-Emily Solak, Kelly Emge, Zoe Hurlburt, Jesse Brennan, Sarah Dudick; C-Michaela Connolly 3, Julia Hatmaker 2, Abby Bloomer, Christina Haspert 2, Grace Bruce 5.
ASSISTS: F-Sam DeCarlo 2, Isabelle Dallam, Zoe Hurlburt; C-Michaela Connolly 3, Christina Haspert 2, Julia Hatmaker 2, Abby Bloomer.
SAVES: F-Lea Roberts 7; C-Hannah Basso 8.