(May 17, 2019) The Stephen Decatur girls’ lacrosse team trailed Mt. Hebron by four goals with about seven minutes remaining in the game, but the Lady Seahawks chipped away at the lead and came back to win the 3A East Region championship, 10-9, on Wednesday in Berlin.
“They knew they could fight back. They are so passionate. They never stop fighting,” Decatur Coach Sara Braniecki said. “They were fighting really hard the whole time. Unfortunately, we got down 3-0 early then we went on a three-goal run. They realized they could do it and knew they were better than that team.”
The 3A East Section I third-seeded Vikings led the Seahawks, the top seed in Section II, 5-3 at halftime.
During the break, Braniecki said the discussion consisted of changes they planned to make for the second half.
“We’re at the point in our season where we’re a dynamic enough team and the girls are disciplined enough [to be able to make changes]. The changes we made worked,” she said.
The Seahawks went into a higher-pressure defense to increase their opportunity of taking the ball from the Vikings in the second half.
“The girl were definitely concerned going into it, but it worked,” Braniecki said. “They took the ball away and it gave us the opportunity to have possession and to be able to score. They went in, they did it, and they did it hard enough that it was productive.”
Mt. Hebron went up 9-5 with about seven minutes on the clock. Then Decatur went on its run.
“Mt. Hebron kept changing things up on us … like from their defensive end that affected our attack,” Braniecki said. “We just kept sorting it out and changing what we were doing to react. They reacted well and made changes to be productive.”
Junior Sarah Engle scored with 6:45 on the clock, and netted another about a minute later. She assisted junior Alyssa Romano’s goal a minute after that. Within two minutes, the Seahawks had cut their opponent’s advantage to one goal.
Freshman Darby Moore evened the score, 9-9, with 2:49 remaining in the game.
After a Mt. Hebron turnover, Decatur gained possession and headed up the field. Romano saw junior Elizabeth Dutton cutting to goal. She passed her the ball and Dutton scored with 1:15 left to play.
The Seahawks kept control of the ball and held on for the victory.
“It was super exciting,” Braniecki said. “When I was in high school we played Mt. Hebron in the state championship and lost 16-0. I haven’t seen them in a game since, so that felt pretty good.”
Engle led Decatur with four goals and two assists. Dutton scored three goals, and Moore, Romano and junior Abby Yesko netted one each.
Junior goalie Isy Kristick recorded five saves.
It was the lacrosse team’s fifth regional title in the last six years, seventh this decade, and the ninth in the last 14 seasons.
Decatur advanced to the regional finals with an 11-6 victory over the Chesapeake Cougars of Anne Arundel on Monday in Berlin.
Dutton, Engle (two assists) and Romano scored three goals apiece. Yesko and senior captain Logan Townsend tallied one goal each.
Kristick stopped eight Chesapeake shots.
A few days earlier, Decatur hosted the James M. Bennett Clippers and won 21-5.
Engle had four goals and one assist in last Friday’s competition. Dutton and sophomore Victoria Mueller netted three shots each.
Moore, Yesko and Romano (one assist) contributed two goals each. Sophomore Brittyn Leonard had one goal and five assists.
“They’ve been playing great. They’ve been composed and mature, taking care of the ball much better than earlier in the season,” Braniecki said earlier in the week. “Our defense has been working together much better, which makes a huge difference. I’m starting to see our younger girls really blossom, which is always a good thing.”
Decatur will face the 3A West Region champs, the Westminster Owls today, Friday, at 6 p.m. at Mount Hebron High School. Westminster defeated Mt. Hebron, 9-5, in the state championship last year.
“We’re so excited. We need to keep our energy up, stay focused, and keep tightening up things we’ve been working on,” Braniecki said. “Every practice, I’ve seen improvement in different things and I think that’s why these girls are where they are today, winning a region final, because they never stop working hard and getting better, better, better, every day. We’re going to try to play our most cleanest, perfect game on Friday.”