With her team facing an opportunity to gain the advantage with a penalty stroke in Saturday’s Class 3A state field hockey title game, River Hill’s Pauline Shih didn’t hesitate.

“I missed my first stroke in a previous scrimmage,” said Shih, “but I told the coach to let me take this one because my adrenaline was rushing.”

Shih’s adrenaline, plus stick control was able to put the ball into the left corner of North Harford’s net in the 26th minute. It was all the Hawks (15-4 overall) needed for a 1-0 victory, and the school’s first state field hockey crown.

Jordan Levy made Shih’s penalty stroke hold up, making seven saves for the shutout. North Harford goalie Beth Genovese also stopped seven shots as the Hawks from Harford County outshot River Hill, 15-11.

“It was surreal when it went into the cage and it was an incredibly close game,” said Shih. “I wasn’t sure if we were going to win because North Harford fought just as hard as we did.”

North Harford (10-6) joined Patterson Mill (Class 1A) as the UCBAC programs fell short in their respective final step to a championship.

“The progress made from last season was tremendous and the trip to the state finals means a lot to the program. We have a very young team composed of mostly sophomores,” said North Harford coach Katie Simms. “River Hill is a great team and we had many opportunities that we just could not capitalize on. We could not seem to get past their defensive line”.

“We hustled to every single ball, but lost in a stroke,” said North Harford senior defender Meg Gill. “It is a shame that one mistake, especially that being a stroke, can decide a game”.

It was also a heck of a wedding anniversary present for River Hill coach Shelly Chamness. After finishing third in the Howard County league race, the Clarksville school was able to run the postseason table for the league’s first crown since 1995.

“It was like a dream and if you coach a sport the ultimate goal is to win states and we did it,” said Chamness, whose team was also rewarded the tournament’s Sportsmanship Award. “All great things happen to me on the 13th.”

river hill field hockey