Enduring a postgame interview room at UMBC Stadium on May 25 was tough for Alyssa Semones and her Westminster girls' lacrosse teammates.
The Owls had just lost to state power Severna Park, 14-7, in the Class 4A-3A state championship. The fact that it was Westminster's only loss after 16 consecutive victories just made matters worse.
But the senior captain handled that painful moment the same way she did her successes in four years at Westminster. While the hurt from a loss in her final high school game was evident, so was Semones' class and dignity in front of media and state high school officials.
The Owls came up short in the title game, but Semones proved her worth time and again during her four-year athletic career. Yet she's equally proud of her academic record and the service that she provided to her school and community.
For the sum of those accomplishments, Semones has been named The Eagle's Student-Athlete of the Year.
Semones, who is now bound for Penn State, played three sports and earned 12 varsity letters at Westminster. She captained the Owls' soccer and basketball teams as a junior and senior, and became a lacrosse captain this year.
She pushed herself to become a top player in all three sports.
"Lacrosse and basketball are definitely my two favorite sports," said the Penn State-bound Semones, who began playing lacrosse at the age of 4.
"When I was in the eighth grade, I realized that I had a chance to play lacrosse at the college level, so I worked much harder at it."
Semones was the unquestioned leader of a talented Westminster lacrosse squad that featured six players who scored 50 or more points.
She finished third among county scoring leaders with 73 goals and 50 assists, as the Owls won Carroll County and Class 4A-3A North Region championships to earn the school's eighth straight trip to the state semifinals.
A comeback victory over C. Milton Wright put Westminster into its second title game in the past three years. The Owls scored the game's first three goals and held a 5-4 halftime lead, but Severna Park outscored Westminster 10-2 in the second half to earn its tenth state crown.
"I never really thought that I would become a 200-goal scorer," said Semones. "I just wanted to help the team get to the state finals and win."
'Beyond ... everyone else'
Her mark on the Westminster lacrosse program went far beyond this season. Semones leaves Westminster as the Owls' career goal leader.
Her 229 goals are the fifth-highest total in Carroll County history.
"She never settled for just being good," said Jackie Stevens, Semones' lacrosse coach for the past three years. "Alyssa would always give 110 percent and was always trying to improve. I remember in our game against Century, she was being face-guarded all the time. But she still led us to a win, despite being down by seven goals at one point."
Her shooting and rebounding skills helped Semones raise the Westminster girls' basketball program. In her freshmen season, the Owls won just six games. They steadily improved each year, jumping to 10 wins in her sophomore season and 12 victories during Semones' junior campaign.
Last winter, Semones led the county in scoring (18 points per game) and free-throw percentage (82.5 percent) as Westminster went 14-9 (11-3 in county play) and finished third behind South Carroll and Liberty in a competitive race.
"I didn't start playing basketball until I was 8," said Semones, who closed her career as the second-leading scorer in Westminster girls' basketball history with 1,212 career points. "After shooting around at a neighbor's house, my sister and I came home and told my dad that we wanted to play basketball that year."