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The natural order is intact: B-CC wins Barons claim another regional field hockey title, avenge earlier loss

Posted Wednesday, November 05, 2008 by John Y. Wehmueller

Gazette.net  by John Y. Wehmueller

Fourteen regional titles in 15 years is a lot to live up to. So with regulation time running down on Thursday's 3A West Region field hockey final, top-seeded and host Bethesda-Chevy Chase had all the motivation it needed to break a tied game.

"If you've had it for however many years you've had it, of course you want to keep it," Barons senior Mimmy Wenzel said. "And it's a lot of pressure to not lose it. … Everyone just wanted to put it in."

Wenzel relieved the pressure at the last possible second — in fact, after the last possible second. She rolled in B-CC's game- and region-winning goal after time had expired in the second half, giving the Barons (13-4) a 3-2 victory over No. 2 Damascus.

B-CC kept putting off overtime by winning three consecutive penalty corners without the Hornets (11-4) being able to clear.

With that, B-CC is off to its 15th state semifinal in coach Amy Wood's 16-year tenure, and 17th in the last 19 years. After all that time, Wood still knows which of her players' buttons to press.

"We haven't ever lost on our home field in the playoffs; 15 years, we've had a lot of home games, and the second number is zero," Wood said. "You make it that this year's team is the only team. It will never be the exact team again. … This is the only year you'll have a chance to win a regional title together."

There was an added dimension to the matchup, as well. Damascus was responsible for one of the Barons' defeats this season, with a 2-1 victory in their Sept. 24 matchup.

Aware of the old coaching adage that it's hard to beat a good team twice in the same season, Jodi Hathway prepared Damascus for the second meeting in the simplest possible way: ignoring that there was a first.

"Pretty much we just negated the fact that we had beaten them before, because it would be that much harder to beat them again," Hathaway said. "We knew we could score against them, we knew we could stay in this game. I just was hoping that it would click in for them. In the beginning, they were very tentative."

B-CC controlled the first half, but came away with just one goal, courtesy of Wenzel. Kirsten Evans scored the Hornets' first goal on their first shot of the game, less than 4 minutes into the second half.

Clare Becker quickly put B-CC back in front, and JoEllen Cotton brought Damascus level again.

"I have so much respect for that team and the way they played," Wood said. "They put it on the line. They played with all their heart. … I would have just put my hands up and clapped if they had beaten us twice."

It nearly happened. The game was tied for the final 17 minutes, 35 seconds, and both teams had chances during that stretch. The Barons simply took the last one, ending the careers of nine groundbreaking Damascus seniors.

"We took a team that goes to states regularly to the final seconds, even after the game was already over," Hathaway said. "They had this game if it went into overtime. … This was the year to do it, and this was the first year we came this close. So I feel like they improved, they worked hard, they did everything they had to do to get to this point. And even to go further."

Instead, B-CC progresses to Wednesday's state semifinal against defending 3A champion Fallston, 1-0 winners over the Barons in last year's final.

Wenzel, who transferred from Holton-Arms before this school year, doesn't remember that defeat. And there are only four other seniors on the team who were in high school in 2005, the last time B-CC failed to reach a state final.

As common as regional field hockey titles have become on East-West Highway, this one was hardly a given.

"We weren't a very good team at the beginning of the year," Wood said. "Weren't we something like 1-3, 4-4? And now we've rolled off nine in a row. Now they believe in themselves."

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