Loss In State Title Game Does Little To Tarnish Remarkable Season

Loss In State Title Game Does Little To Tarnish Remarkable Season
decatur girls

BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s girls’ varsity lacrosse team’s bid for a state championship and a perfect season ended with a heart-breaking 10-7 loss to Baltimore-area powerhouse Century in the title game on Wednesday, but the loss did little to tarnish what was a remarkable season for the Seahawks.

Decatur entered the state championship game against Century as a decided underdog as the battle-tested Knights had been in the state final 11 times in the last 12 years and on Wednesday won their fourth state championship in the last seven years. The Seahawks, meanwhile, were undefeated, taking on all comers throughout its remarkable season including a win over Queen Anne’s in the Bayside championship and a narrow win over another Baltimore-area power Hereford in the state semifinals last Thursday.

For much of the first half on Wednesday, the two teams battled like a pair of heavyweights looking to expose each other’s weakness and look for an opportunity. The first half ended in a 5-5 tie, setting the stage for a dramatic finish. The Decatur defense led by goalkeeper Jillian Petito, who recorded eight of her 10 saves in the first half, had been successful in stymying the Knights, who averaged 15 goals per game.

The Seahawks took a 6-5 lead early in the second on a goal by Elle Bargar, but Century answered with a tying goal with just over 15 minutes remaining. After the Knights took a 7-6 lead, Decatur answered with a goal by Payton VanKirk on an assist by sophomore Claire Porter, who emerged as an offensive force during the state playoffs. VanKirk’s goal tied it 7-7 with 8:30 left in the contest, but that was as close as the Seahawks would get to wrapping up a state championship and a perfect season.

Century took the lead for good with a goal at the 7:37 mark to go ahead, 8-7, and scored again less than a minute later to extend the lead to 9-7. With plenty of time still left, there was no quit in the Seahawks, who continued to apply pressure on the Knights’ net.

However, a couple of late, ill-timed yellow cards by the Seahawks left them down a player as the clock wound down and Century was able to control the ball and limit Decatur’s possessions. The Knights were able to kill the clock and scored the final goal with less than a minute remaining to secure the 10-7 win and the state championship.

The loss was a tough one for the Seahawks, but did little to tarnish their remarkable season. Decatur came from behind against Hereford last Thursday with two late goals by sophomore Lexie VanKirk to reach the state championship game for the first time since 2006. Decatur’s run at perfection and a state title provide further evidence on how far lacrosse has come on the Eastern Shore in recent years. The teams in Century’s bracket had won 31 state championships compared to five for the rest of the 3A-2A.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.