Westminster boys and girls sweep way into 3A state lacrosse final; Anderson’s OT goal pushes Lady Owls past No. 14 Bel Air (VIDEO HERE!)


Erin Anderson (5) was the “Golden Girl” Saturday for Westminster. The senior scored the winning goal in overtime, giving the No. 15 Owls a 10-9 victory over 14th-ranked Bel Air in a Class 3A state girls’ lacrosse semifinal at Mount Hebron.

by Derek Toney

On the day of one of the biggest events of their lives, Westminster High lacrosse seniors moved closer to capping their athletic careers in style. The Owls advanced to the Class 3A state final with semifinal victories Saturday at Mount Hebron.

The No. 11 Westminster boys defeated 18th-ranked Towson, 11-8, in the nightcap while the 15th-ranked Owl girls defeated No. 14 Bel Air, 10-9, in overtime. Both squads will play Thursday evening at Stevenson University for the state championship.

Saturday evening, Westminster had its Senior Prom.

The Owl boys are back in the penultimate game for the first time since 2013 (4A), breaking away from a gritty Towson squad. Sophomore Conner Covey scored four goals for the Owls (17-1 overall) and Chase Buckwalter finished with two goals and one assist.

“Hats off to Towson. They came to play today and luckily we were able to bounce back,” said Westminster coach Steve DeFeo. “We got some key turnovers, maintained possession of the ball and was able to kill some clock at the end.”

Up four goals three times, Westminster saw the Generals climb back into contention, the latter 10-8, after a goal from Leighton Bechtel with 6:30 left in regulation. The Baltimore County squad had an extra-man opportunity later in the quarter, but turned the ball over.

The Owls worked the clock before senior Patrick Stewart slipped free inside for a goal with less than two minutes to go. Junior Bubba Love added two goals and Christian Etchison and Patrick Stewart each recorded a goal and an assist.

“We have so much talent on offense with Koz, Bubba and Pat down low and Bud, Chase, Kobe and myself up top, we got so many playmakers,” said Etchison, a junior midfielder committed to Mount St. Mary’s. “We know if we get down a little bit, we know we have the talent to come back.”

The Generals (14-5) scored first, but Westminster ran off five straight goals to grab command. Towson chipped away, closing to 5-4 at halftime and 7-6 in the third on Dylan Adams’ goal. Covey scored the last of his four goals, capping a 3-0 spurt, pushing the Owls’ lead back to four at 10-6.

Adams finished with a game-high five goals for Towson, and Grant Kuehn had a goal and an assist. It was the first state semifinal appearance for the Generals since 2005.

“It’s our first go-round here playing against that’s here year-in and year-out. We learned the difference between being pretty good and very good,” said Towson coach Shawn Burke. “That was the difference, we ran into a very good team that’s experienced.”

After losing to Montgomery County’s Churchill in last spring’s 4A state semifinal, Westminster will try to capture its second state title Thursday against Calvert County’s Northern. Northern, which won the 3A/2A state title last year, defeated Centennial, in the other semifinal Friday.

“Obviously, they’re defending state champions and know how to win,” said DeFeo, whose guided Westminster to three state final fours and seven Carroll league championships in eight seasons. “We’re going to have our hands full, but we’re going to do our best to match them.”

Will the 10th time finally be the charm for Westminster girls? The Owls are again on the cusp of a state title, thanks to Erin Anderson.

The senior was the “Golden Girl,” tallying a little over a minute into overtime, sending Westminster to Stevenson University. Junior Anna Ruby had four goals and an assist for the Owls, and Chloe Sedlar added two scores and an assist.

Anderson, who quickly left to go home and prepare for the prom, was the hero. She got a pass from Sedlar put a shot high right past Bel Air goalie Riley Patrick for the walk-off victory.

“[Erin is] one of our best cutters. I think it’s perfect she was the one that scored the goal,” said Ruby. “It just shows off her talent and what we’ve been working with all season.”

The final play exorcised the bitter taste of last year’s 10-9 overtime loss to Bel Air in the 4A/3A state semifinals. The Bobcats went on to win the state title.

A couple of weeks ago, Bel Air handed the Owls a 13-9 setback.

“We couldn’t look at this game anything like the last game,” said Madi Macera. “We knew who their stars were, they have great talent. We knew what we needed to shut them out.”

Westminster (15-3) constructed a 5-1 first half advantage, only to see Bel Air (15-3) pulled even in the second half. There was four ties and three lead changes over the final 25 minutes.

The Bobcats had a chance to take the lead in the final seconds, but Madi Hall’s free position shot went wide after Westminster’s quickly collapsed on her.

Bel Air never touched the ball in overtime, ending its bid for a second straight state championship.

“We had the player we wanted with the ball in that position,” said Bobcats coach Kristen Barry. “They did a good job of getting their sticks in there, knocking the ball down. It was a battle.”

The Owls will play Mount Hebron for the state title Thursday evening at Stevenson University. The Vikings defeated southern Maryland’s Huntingtown, 12-7, in the other semifinal Friday.

Westminster, which last reached a state final in 2012 (Class 4A), has yet to win a state championship.

“Our program has been waiting for this moment to show the state what we can do,” said Macera, whose sister Meghan starred on the 2012 squad.

Westminster’s Bubba Love (2) tries to get around Towson’s Teagan Hersch during Saturday’s Class 3A state boys’ lacrosse semifinal. The No. 11 Owls advance to their first final since 2013 with an 11-8 victory over the 18th-ranked Generals.

“We believe we have such a special group from the coaching staff to team chemistry,” said Ruby. “We’re prepared represent Westminster.”

Class 3A state lacrosse semifinals

at Mount Hebron

BOYS

No. 11 Westminster 11, No. 18 Towson 8

Goals: Westminster – Covey 4, Buckwalter 2, Love 2, Etchison, Kozlowski, Stewart; Towson – Adams 5, Bechtel, Hickman, Kuehn

Assists: Westminster – Buckwalter, Etchison, Stewart; Towson – Kuehn.

Saves: Westminster – L. Covey 6; Towson – Simmons 8

GIRLS

No. 15 Westminster 10, No. 14 Bel Air 9 (OT)

Goals: Westminster – Anna Ruby 4, Chloe Sedlar 2, Erin Anderson 2, Madi Macera, Lauren Saltz; Bel Air – Lauren Asher 4, Juli Henry 2, Maggi Hall 2, Elizabeth Hillman

Assists: Westminster –  Anna Ruby, Hannah Dintino, Chloe Sedlar; Bel Air – Maggi Hall 3, Anna McQuay

Saves: Westminster – Sara Tyssowski 6; Bel Air – Riley Patrick 3