“It’s hard to beat a team three times in a season” is a well-worn sports cliché. But there’s also a reason it’s so often used.
Broadneck’s field hockey team beat Crofton 2-1 in the regular season and 3-2 in the county championship game. In Thursday’s 4A state semifinal game, however, the old adage proved itself again, as Crofton ended the Bruins’ reign as 4A champions with a 2-0 shutout at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring.
A penalty stroke midway through the first period gave the Cardinals the lead and allowed them to adopt a defensive approach that let Broadneck have plenty of the ball, but rarely in a dangerous position.
Crofton’s goal was to keep Faith Everett and Katelyn Kearns off the ball as much as possible and cut off passing lanes in middle of the field. It worked to lethal precision.
“That’s the best defensive game I’ve seen them play,” said Broadneck coach Shannon Hanratty. “We weren’t worried about scoring two to win; we were just focused on getting one. We threw everything we had at it, and we just couldn’t find a way through.”
In line with the game flow, the Bruins had more quality opportunities than did the Cardinals. But two would-be goals either side of halftime were disallowed for violations, and Broadneck’s best chance was met with a top-drawer save from Crofton keeper Ryleigh Osborne, off the stick of Abbie Morris early in the fourth period.
Twice Broadneck had a two-minute numerical advantage, but Crofton killed both penalties off successfully. In the fourth period, Kearns was tagged with a yellow-card offense and Broadneck played a player light for five minutes. Crofton scored the clinching goal with one second left on the penalty.
Broadneck was shut out for the first time in more than two years, since the state quarterfinals in 2021, which was also their last public school defeat.
“It hurts more because this is a group you want to be around as much as possible. It’s such a great group of girls, and you want every day you can get with them,” Hanratty said. “But only one team gets to be happy at the end. Unfortunately, it’s not us this time.”