After winning its first Class 4A/3A West Region title in program history on Wednesday, senior Maddie Doan and the Sherwood High School girls lacrosse team turned their attention to playing Howard in the state semifinals. And, initially, they didn't like what they saw.
“Our goal for so long was just to win regions because Sherwood girls lacrosse had never done that before,” Doan said. “We were so happy when we did, but then we realized we were playing another team from Howard County and we were like, 'Uh-oh. This could be it for the year.' Every year, [Montgomery County] teams went to states — we saw what happened to [Winston] Churchill in recent years — and they would get killed.
“But after we watched game film in practice, we realized we could compete. We saw we were just as good and we came in here pretty confident.”
On Saturday, the Warriors made some more history and reversed the county's unpleasant trend, becoming the first Montgomery County girls lacrosse team to win a state tournament game. Sherwood (16-0) defeated Howard (12-6), 17-14, at Annapolis to advance to play Broadneck (17-3), which topped Catonsville 15-5 in the other semifinal, in the championship game on Tuesday or Wednesday at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Doan, a Virginia Tech signee, scored a season-high eight goals to pace Sherwood's attack along with junior Johns Hopkins recruit Emily Kenul (3 goals, 3 assists) against the Lions.
“This means Montgomery County is getting better and better,” Kenul said. “Not just us, all the teams in the area. This is big.”
Early on it appeared that the game would follow a path similar to every other previous state tournament game involving a Montgomery County team, as Howard took a 2-0 lead with 19 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the opening half. But Sherwood began to find its way. The Warriors rallied to take a 4-3 lead on a free position goal by Kenul at 14:13.
After Howard scored to cut the deficit to one, 7-6, at the 7:10 mark, Sherwood held possession for almost seven minutes, and Natalie Sebeck scored on a free position shot 14 seconds before halftime.
“The last couple games I haven't had to say a whole lot to get them fired up,” second-year Sherwood coach Kelly Hughes said. “I think they get it now. They came out ... ready to go.”
Added Kenul: “We knew we could score against them. And defensively, we just had to keep possession and not allow them to have the ball.”
With all the momentum, the Warriors scored the first three goals coming out of the break and led by as many as seven, 17-10, after Doan scored for the final time.
“We knew for a long time that we had a really clear chance of winning the region,” Hughes said. “Obviously that was historical for us, but at same time, we knew if we were to win that game, we would want more. All season we were preparing to play teams ... like [Howard]. We knew there was going to be a big difference outside our region.”
Added Doan: “We proved something today — for us and the county — and are pretty confident. We have to continue to improve.”
Class 4A/3A state semifinal
at Annapolis High School
Sherwood 17, Howard 14
Howard (12-6) 6 8 — 14
Sherwood (16-0) 8 9 — 17
Howard: Kristen Woolschlager 4, Abbey Groft 4, Kelly Aquino 2, Maddie Regal 2, Kelsey Savje 1, Katie Maggio 1.
Sherwood: Kristen Lauda 2, Quinn Pettenati 1, Taylor Polhemus 1, Natalie Sebeck 2, Emily Kenul 3, Maddie Doan 8.