When the Severna Park girls lacrosse team squared off against Dulaney in the state final at Paint Branch High School on May 22, Severna Park’s players had the opportunity to show what they had believed and lived for much of the 2019 season.
The Falcons were the stronger and faster team, deeper and more complete, superior in technical aspects of the game, wielding fine-tuned teamwork and driven by a years-brewing determination to show the lacrosse world they were the best in the state.
Severna Park wasn’t about to let the last opponent of the season derail the goal they set out to achieve, and they brought their ambitions into reality: the Falcons dominated gameplay from the outset in defeating Dulaney 10-5 to ascend to the peak of Maryland high school lacrosse as 4A state champions.
Three goals by Alex Miller, two by Hunter Chadwick, nine saves by Delaney Ott, swift passing, tenacious defending and an overwhelming start-to-finish delivery left no doubt that Severna Park rightfully earned its crown.
“It’s huge. I’m so excited, so proud,” said Severna Park fifth-year head coach Kaitlyn Hines. “That’s it — we can’t go any further, can’t do anything more. We did what we set out to accomplish, and that’s what we said at the beginning of the year: ‘We’re going to states, and not only are we going, we’re winning.’ We did it, so I’m so proud.”
If dominant playoff victories were not enough indication — Severna Park (19-1) beat Glen Burnie, Arundel, Broadneck and Walt Whitman by double-digit scores en route to the final — the first few minutes against the Dulaney Lions (11-7) showed that the Falcons were on a ruthless playoff rampage without any intention to slow down before finishing the job.
Ott, a senior, made three saves in the opening minutes to offset draw control losses by the Falcons, and each time, Severna Park cleared quickly and patiently worked through their ensuing offense to turn the possession into a score. They jumped out to a 3-0 lead on goals by Miller, Chadwick and a Julia Putzi-assisted goal by Hailey Blachly, then made it 4-0 less than 10 minutes in when Chadwick willed her way to goal for her second score.
“We knew Dulaney was good on the draw, and [early in the game] they had still been dominating on the draw, we just had our solid defense back there coming up with it for us,” said Hines. “[Ott making early saves] was huge. I’ve been saying it throughout the entire year with her. She’s just phenomenal in cage and I feel so secure back there…We kept up on it and kept finishing everything on the offensive end, and that’s hard, and that’s deflating for a team, and that’s kind of where we wanted to keep that momentum going.”
Dulaney broke the spell with a goal, but Severna Park answered with goals by Maddie Brady and Miller to go up 6-1. A pair of scores by the Lions didn’t seem to swing momentum, especially when Miller scored her third before halftime for a 7-3 lead at the break.
Expecting Dulaney to make a push, Severna Park’s defense stood defiantly in the Lions’ path. The core defensive unit of Rachel Spilker, Kate Bray, Kaila Stasuli and Sophie Grazioli as well as midfielders Miller, Cam Chew and Theresa Bragg disrupted seemingly every Dulaney action, ending possessions with a save by Ott or a Falcon takeaway. Severna Park cleared effectively throughout the game, and Ott finished with nine saves.
By Severna Park’s defensive will, Dulaney’s comeback never came.
“[The defense has] been pretty strong all year, and we really have been working together since the beginning,” said Ott. “Being able to rely on each other, we know that our slides are going to be there, our crashes are going to be there, and we know that we are going to clear it out. So it’s just really helpful knowing that you can rely on everyone on the team.”
An unassisted score by Chew and a goal by Putzi midway through the second made it 9-3. After a Dulaney score, senior Brooke Atcheson put the finishing touch on the game with a goal with under two minutes to play. The Lions scored a goal with under a minute left, but the outcome was secured: at the final buzzer, Severna Park’s players flowed off the sidelines and into a jubilant pile of celebration in front of Ott’s net.
“Finally,” said Ott. “It’s our senior year, last season. I play three sports, and we’ve just never been able to get to that state championship, or we have but we weren’t able to win it, so it was like, ‘Finally, my team is running toward me, finally we can win one.’”
The win capped a long journey for many of the Falcons, as Severna Park’s 11 seniors were a group that had suffered its disappointments. Some were freshmen on the 2016 team that was stunned by Broadneck in the region semifinals. Many were on the 2017 team that lost to Bel Air in the closing seconds of that year’s state final. Most all of them were on last year’s team that fell to South River in the region final.
The losses became motivators. Their final season was their time.
“I think definitely playing my sophomore year in the [state final], running back to the opposing goal and turning around, hearing the cheering and the ball in the net in the last 11 seconds really fuels your fire last year and this year,” said Chadwick. “Our seniors were really good at getting everyone really excited and making everyone want to be here.”
The title is the 14th in program history and the first since 2015, when Hines took the Falcons to the second of back-to-back titles in her first year as head coach.
Miller noted the heft of history and reputation that comes with wearing the Severna Park jersey.
“We wanted to make our alumni proud,” Miller said. “Being Severna Park, there’s always someone pushing us, and everyone wants to play us. So, making our alumni proud was a big thing. There was a bunch of our seniors [when we were underclassmen] in the stands, so seeing them really happy was a good feeling too.”
Hines said the team showed mental discipline and toughness by locking into its collective pursuit from the start of the season. Citing the alumni and administration, she said the Falcons drew strength and support from the broader Severna Park community.
“It’s nice to support our fans and players and parents and all the ones who are kind of the background for us,” said Hines.
“It feels good to be able to get that win.”
The Severna Park lacrosse players are Sophia Villagomez, Hunter Chadwick, Carson Shoop, Grace Ferguson, Cam Chew, Reagan Clark, Kaila Stasuli, Emma Marsh, Abbi Jones, Alex Miller, Kate Bray, Theresa Bragg, Cameron Brinegar, Lily Echeverria, Emersyn Kelter, Kayla Minton, Brooke Atcheson, Genevieve Mullervy, Haley Betch, Kennedy Wolfe, Rachel Spilker, Maddie Brady, Kate Rott, Jenna King, Courtney Youngwood, Kyla Vendemia, Sophie Grazioli, Hailey Blachly, Kailyn McCulloch, Julia Putzi, Delaney Ott, Kayla McCool, Ashley Faini and Zoe Day. The program is coached by Kaitlyn Hines, varsity assistant coaches Gretchen Mayer and Colleen McGee, junior varsity head coach Annie Houghton and JV assistant coaches Jen Edwards and Paige Thumel.