CHESTERTOWN, Md. – Patuxent field hockey coach Lynn Powell told her team that the only thing more difficult than winning the first state championship in the history of the program would be the title defense this season.
"We knew it would be really hard to detach it and try to repeat it," Powell said. "It's almost impossible."
The Panthers, who returned to the 1A Maryland League championship game with a 15-0 record after conceding only two goals throughout the season, failed to reach their noble goal: they fell to South Carroll, 2-0 , Saturday at Washington College. The Cavaliers have conquered the fifth title in the history of the program, but their first since 2002.
In a first half back and forth, the Panthers could not get an initial advantage. Freshman Riley Eells ran several times on the field to revive Patuxent's offense, but after 10 minutes and two penalties, Powell called a timeout.
From that point, South Carroll (11-8) took over. Towards the end of the first half, Cavaliers striker Abbey Behn closed a rebound that eluded Patuxent's senior goalkeeper Chloe South, but was flown after a Cavaliers player kicked the ball.
"I have to be focused all the time," said South. "There were shots that came from them that I did not expect".
The Cavaliers continued to push the question into the second half, finally breaking through when the striker Julia Weiss finished a cross in the forward of Grace Fipps.
This game was the hardest challenge of the South for the season. He led the Panthers to 13 shutouts, and the state championship game was the first time Patuxent dragged himself through the season.
"We push it to practice," Powell said. "When the season comes, it's more or less his show, and we know it. [In the state semifinal], we strengthened the defense in the second half and Chloe saved us a couple of times ".
Desperate for a goal to tie him, Patuxent started his attack when the time stopped, firing all over Carroll South Carroll goalkeeper Rachel Hagler. But 30 seconds from the end, South Carroll striker Rachel Linn stole the ball, ran to Patuxent's door and sent a shot south. South blocked the ball but Fipps took the ball rebound and has put in the door.
As the Panthers lined up to receive their medals in second place, Powell hugged each player as he sobbed on his shoulders.
"Win or lose," Powell said, "is over."