River Hill‘s field hockey team has been playing with one motto this past week:

Make history.

Seven days ago, the No. 15 Hawks defeated Atholton, 3-1, in the Class 3A East title game, winning the program’s first regional championship.

In the Class 3A State semifinals on Wednesday night at Broadneck High School, River Hill held off a furious Quince Orchard attack, further rewriting the school’s record book by advancing to the its first state final game.

“We’re the first to ever go to states, win regionals or anything like that. It’s a huge deal,” said senior Paige Decker.  “I just think the fact that we’re making history is insane.  I am so happy and so proud of our team, this is a great group of people. I love all of them.”

Decker and junior Nina Collins scored goals and the Hawks defense made timely clears and saves in the last 10 minutes to preserve the win.

“We said that we couldn’t play to not lose, we had to play to win,” said River Hill coach Shelly Chamness about her team having to hold onto a 2-1 lead late.  “But I have to say that when it got down to four minutes, it was just like, come on, tick, tick.”

After a Caroline Bird shot was saved by Cougars goalie Rachel Lipman, Decker found the rebound and fired a shot into the goal with 18:22 left in the first half.

“We needed to get on the board and I think that first goal was a big deal,” said Decker, who scored her 13th goal of the season.  “It got our morale up.”

Quince Orchard, which had outscored its opponents 16-0 on its way to the 3A West Regional crown, came out aggressively in the final 30 minutes.  The Cougars had 12 penalty corners and eight shots in the second half alone.

“Defending their corners was huge,” said Chamness.  “Their corners were a little similar to ours so that really helpedhistory because obviously we practice against it.”

Despite Quince Orchard controlling possession for most of the second half, Nina Collins was able to score to put River Hill ahead, 2-0.

The defense, led by Katie Woolls, Bird and goalie Jordan Levy (four saves), held the Cougars scoreless on all of their 13 overall penalty corner attempts. Other than a late penalty stroke that was converted by Quince Orchard leading scorer Leah Hunsinger, the Hawks kept the Cougars scoring attack in check.

“It was so stressful,” Woolls said of the last few minutes of the game.  “We’ve done drills in practice before with pressuring the defense, so that really helped tonight.  It was really stressful but it felt good to keep them from scoring and clearing the ball out of there.”

River Hill will face North Harford (Harford County), a 3-0 winner over Northern (Calvert County) in the other 3A semifinal game, on Saturday at Washington College at 11 a.m.


No. 15 River Hill 2, Quince Orchard 1
River Hill112
River Hill-Decker, Collins.
River Hill-Levy 4; Quince Orchard-Lipman 5.