Severna Park High School is home to the most successful field hockey program in Maryland history, with 25 state titles, countless more county and regional titles, and many individual accolades. But despite the high school success of many players over the years, there hasn’t been as much success at the collegiate level with regards to winning national titles.
So, when the Northwestern Wildcats made a surprise run to the 2021 NCAA Division 1 national championship and defeated Liberty in the title game on November 21, sophomore Lila Slattery became the first player from Severna Park to win a national title since Amanda Himmelheber won her second title in 2010 playing for Maryland, with her first one coming in 2008. Since the turn of the century, Slattery and Himmelheber are the only former players from Severna Park to win a national championship, putting them in a unique position compared to many of their former teammates and fellow alums.
For Slattery, the gravity and importance of the game wasn’t apparent to her until the final few minutes. “It was surreal, as it felt like any normal game,” Slattery said. “It was so close for like the whole first half and we were all getting kind of anxious. After halftime, we started standing on the bench, instead of in front of it. We weren’t really thinking like, ‘We’re going to win the national championship.’ We’re like, ‘We just need to win the game.’”
Going into college, Slattery had been told that the level of competition was going to get tougher, but nothing could have prepared her for how much of a difference high school was to college.
“Everyone says that it’s a completely different level, but it’s so true,” Slattery explained. “I thought that I was really fast in high school, and I still am really fast, but everyone’s that much faster and just that much more competitive.”
As a junior next year, Slattery will be a team leader, but she feels like she won’t be the only person the team will look toward to help lead them to a win, which will be a far cry from her time playing for the Falcons.
“Senior year, if we wanted to win, I felt like I was the one who needed to score a goal,” she said. “So that year, I feel like I had more pressure and responsibility on myself, but then when we won, I also felt like ‘I had done this.’ But now, I feel like I really contributed to the team.”
Additionally, going forward into next season, Slattery said that there will be a target on the backs of her team since they’ll be defending champions, something which she is used to from playing at Severna Park.
“It’s all about building off the energy we ended with and just keep going up from there and try not to have a setback that’ll make us start over,” she stated. “Next year, I won’t try to put too much pressure on myself, just because no one on my team is really the star; we’re all such big contributors to the success of the team. I’m just going to do the best that I can, and everyone else will do their parts together as a team.”
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