In the next few weeks, Marriotts Ridge midfielder Zoe Stukenberg might just get a graduation card from Century girls lacrosse coach Becky Groves.
After Tuesday night’s Class 3A-2A state championship, Groves will be extremely happy to see Stukenberg depart for Maryland. The All-Metro midfielder scored three goals and dished out six assists to lead the No. 6 Mustangs to a 15-5 victory over the defending champion and No. 2 Knights at UMBC Stadium.
“It’s unbelievable,” Stukenberg said. “Only one team gets to win a state championship and then to not just win that state championship but every single person on our team performed at their best, it’s ending on the best possible note.”
The Knights, who also lost to the Mustangs in the 2011 title game, used single coverage and double teams to try to stop Stukenberg but she worked through everything, finding the open player, drawing fouls and beating the double team a couple of times for goals.
“She does it all,” Groves said. “She’s very fast. Not only does she score, but she makes everyone around her better and if you send a double, she will find the open person. To be honest, I don’t think there’s a way to stop her.”
The Mustangs (18-1) got off to a fast start against a Century team that has come back several times this spring, including against then-No. 2 C. Milton Wright in overtime in the state semifinal. They scored the first three goals of the game and while their offense kept rolling, the defense was even more impressive early in its ability to hold down a Knights offense averaging 15.6 goals per game.
By keeping the Knights (16-3) in check, the Marriotts Ridge defense – Rachel Ortell (10 saves), Alex McKay, Alexis Zadjura, Brooke Sharbaugh, Katie Berdy and midfielders Taylor Hensh and Stukenberg – had a lot to do with a running clock kicking in with 17:06 to go. Groves said it was probably the first time the Knights have been on the lower end of a running clock.
“This group of defenders is the strongest and most cohesive unit I’ve ever played with,” said McKay, who is also headed to Maryland. “It’s almost like you know what people are going to do before they do it and Century’s probably one of the strongest offensive teams we’ve had to play this year. Each and every single attacker is a huge threat and we managed to keep them to five goals.
In the second half, the Mustangs dominated the draw, ran a patient offense and scored the first five goals as Stukenberg handed out four assists – the first two to Maggie Brooks who finished with five goals -- and scored on a free position to take a 12-2 lead.
When the Mustangs weren’t dominating possession in the second half, the were defending all over the field, giving Century fits not only in the arc but everywhere. They shut out the Knights for more than 20 minutes until Hannah Warther scored a free-position goal.
By then, the Mustangs had run their lead to ten goals. Stukenberg then scored two goals and assisted Jenna Kerr for another as the Mustangs led 15-3 with 5:25 to go.
The Knights senior class graduates with two state titles and four trips to the title game. Century had won six titles in nine years. Only two programs have won more, Mount Hebron (15) and Severna Park (11).