Elaine McCabe’s body simply gave up. The exhaustion, the exhilaration and the responsibility of the goal that dethroned Academy of the Holy Cross from its half-decade long perch atop the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference field hockey landscape was all too much. So she collapsed on the icy University of Maryland, College Park field hockey and lacrosse complex turf.
Around her, delirium ensued, an open-air cauldron of joy. Smiles were captured by flashbulbs and iPhones. Hugs were given to anyone with two arms and a body. Coach Theda Bagdon — likely still warmed by the adrenaline rush or numbed by the moment — took a bone-chilling Gatorade bath courtesy of her victorious Our Lady of Good Counsel High School players. Hailey Anchor wondered aloud if she had ever felt this happy in her entire life. Abigail Wilson said she wanted to cry.
This type of scene was foreign to every single player wearing a Falcons’ jersey on Thursday night. Nobody other than Holy Cross had taken home the conference’s gargantuan championship trophy in half a decade. The last to do so was Good Counsel in 2007.
With one stroke from McCabe’s stick, the streak was undone and a 2-1 overtime victory was in hand, possibly the beginning of a new era of WCAC field hockey, certainly the end of a remarkable one.
“It is just — it’s surreal,” Bagdon said in between hugs, pictures, congratulations and any other manner of celebration. “It’s been something — we’ve wanted it, I could taste it, especially last year, I could taste it. It was our year.”
The victory is sweet for obvious reasons, namely the close of the six-year long drought. But there were countless more. To call this matchup déjà vu is a mighty understatement. Good Counsel and Holy Cross have met at the University of Maryland each of the past four years, the Tartans coming out on top each time. Last year, the sting grew impossibly worse, when Good Counsel relinquished a two-goal lead in the second half to lose in overtime. When Thursday’s contest went to extra minutes, Bagdon and the Falcons couldn’t bear the thought of letting another slip away, the trophy within a golden-goal’s grasp yet again.
“We’ve been working for this — so much dedication went towards this win,” said McCabe, whose game-winner came with 2 minutes, 58 seconds left in overtime. “I’ve been in the championship the past two years. To finally come out with a win is really, really great.”
It was McCabe who ultimately ended it, thwarting Holy Cross keeper Kathleen Mauck — who, it should be noted, was tremendous all evening — on a one-on-one. But it was Good Counsel goalie Caroline Campbell who continually breathed life into the Falcons, keeping them afloat for just long enough until the offense ended it. Of the 12 shots the Tartans put on goal, including one in overtime, only Sandra Durbin found a way to beat Campbell, though a pair of Kristen Bengston goals were called back because she was outside of the shooting circle.
“She played great,” Holy Cross first-year coach Lindsey Weller said of Campbell. “We definitely had some opportunities. We were a little off tonight. I think we took a few things for granted but their goalie did a tremendous job.”
As Bagdon valiantly tried to make her way through the throngs of navy and gold clad fans, a pair of Good Counsel alumni from the 2007 WCAC championship team approached her. The first expressed how proud she was and then wondered if this was “the happiest moment ever” for the coach.
The second expressed a simpler message: “You finally did it.”
And then it was off into the night. More pictures, more hugs, more celebrations — six years worth of them.
Our Lady of Good Counsel 2, Academy of the Holy Cross 1
Good Counsel (12-4-1) 1 0 1 — 2
Holy Cross (10-7) 1 0 0 — 1
Good Counsel — Jordan Sweeney, Elaine McCabe
Holy Cross — Sandra Durbin
Good Counsel — Haley Giraldi