Crisfield High School’s field hockey team closed its regular season during the 2012 campaign with a convincing 3-0 whitewashing of North Division champion Kent Island — the Lady Crabbers’ most inspired performance so far. They were peaking at the right time, every coach’s dream for their players to come together at tournament time and have the chemistry it takes make for a successful championship drive.
The Lady Crabbers appeared to have ascended to that level with their overwhelming triumph over the North winners. CHS was at top form both offensively and defensively, completely dominating an outstanding team.
“We were ready for this game, we knew we had to play well,” said Cassidy Marshall. Crisfield was firing on all 8 cylinders and it appeared that Coach Emely Larmore had successfully tweaked out the inconsistences. CHS had risen to a previously unobtainable level no other Lady Crabbers program had attained, their 11-1 record, best ever, a first South crown and now they would be engaging in their first ever Bayside championship game.
In their quest for glory the question was would any inconsistences creep in as the Lady Crabbers sought their first Conference title, then State tournament play, when they would be battling teams they had already defeated. They would need a repeat performance. Coach Larmore and her players were confidant but one thing was certain these fallen opponents would be well prepared in these crucial playoff contests.
Several opposing coaches felt they should have won in South play, they gave CHS little credit, they felt that Crisfield was vulnerable in the Regionals. Coach Larmore was ready for the playoffs but there would be some anxious moments in the coming weeks.
Champions of the South Coach Larmore and the Lady Crabbers had done it, for the first time in school history, (Bayside era), they were champions, they were ground breakers but they could not afford to rest on their laurels there were more mountains to ascend. The Bayside championship represented the next lofty peak, it would be a rematch with Kent Island. Larmore expected a more competitive effort the second time around. It was an embarrassing loss for the Buccaneers, they were in revenge mode, a victory in the Bayside would more than make up for the loss at Crisfield.
The Buccaneers pressed hard offensively the first 10 minutes just as they had in the regular season matchup, earning 4 penalty corners in the first 4 minutes. “We were nervous. Don’t know why, we tried to take it like any other game,” said Carly Todd. It was uncharted territory no other CHS girls’ team had made it this far. “They played a lot better, their stick work was better,” said Elaine Dize who was nursing an ankle injury sustained in the first game.
Freshman Arielle Johnston had Crisfield’s first solid opportunity as CHS recovered from the Buccaneers initial onslaught. Todd had a shot deflected by the keeper, Rachel Evans put CHS on the board at the 12:44 mark, getting an assist from Ashlyn Heath. The strike held until Kent Island’s Megan Jones made it 1 all, 16 minutes into the second half. “Several times I thought we were going to score but they kept the pressure on,” said Larmore.
Crisfield fell back on its defense forcing the contest into overtime. “We do pretty well in overtime,” said Larmore, and it appeared her assessment would hold up as CHS charged the Buccaneers’ circle in the first 3 minutes but 3 close range shots somehow missed the mark.
Crisfield totally dominated the first extra period but a second 10 minute cycle would be necessary. In the opening moments of the second OT, it seemed the Buccaneers would at last prevail. Forward Jessica Huffinson broke through the defense into the circle and drove a hard shot at goalie Naomi Barnes who fell as she went for the save; from the sidelines it was evident that the North champs had scored.
Barnes quickly got to her feet and noticed that the ball had stopped just inches from the goal line. Defensive stalwart Joanne Swift responded and got the ball out of danger. “I thought its mot going to end like this,” Swift said, and the Lady Crabbers went back on the offensive. Heath got the game winner with 4:13 left off an assist from Todd. Heath had misfired on a wide open shot in the first OT.
“I wasn’t going to let that happen again,” Heath said. Some anxious moments but CHS held on winning 2-1, they were Queens of the Bayside.
Kent Island’s misfortunes would continue they fell to Easton in the East 2A playoffs. Larmore turned her attention to the all important 1A East Regionals, there were 7 teams looking to knock the Lady Crabbers off their lofty perch. Crisfield opened Regional play with a 5-1 triumph over North Caroline, Carly Todd had 2 goals, Alexis McCready, Taylor Marshall and Ashlyn Heath 1 apiece, with Rachel Evans and Heath posting assists. But Larmore was not overly pleased with Crisfield’s performance. “We were not communicating, not running our offense,” she said.
Crisfield’s semifinal opponent was Washington, the Jaguars were itching to repeat their 2011 upset. Déjà vu was out of the question for Crisfield in 2012. Pocomoke and Parkside were to meet in the other semi.
Defense saved the day for CHS, their offense struggled as Larmore feared. Crisfield won 1-0 on a penalty stroke by Taylor Marshall, another anxious moment. Parkside downed Pocomoke 4-2 setting up the Regional final, the Rams a 2A school moved to 1A for field hockey. Parkside took advantage of a lackluster CHS effort leading 1-0 at the half.
“I told them you’ve had a great year done a lot of things never achieved before, but is this the way you want to go out, is this the way you want to be remembered?,” said Larmore. Hurricane Sandy was a factor in the scheduling of the playoffs, CHS came out of the break like a hurricane, the Lady Crabbers completely dominated the second half, the Rams were cloistered in their end virtually the entire period. CHS rallied behind goals from Carly Todd and Taylor Marshall taking their first Regional crown 2-1.
Crisfield had advanced to the State tournament.
CHS made it to the final defeating Sparrows Point 2-0, both goals by Ashlyn Heath. It was a different story against defending champ Fallston, a team that had won 11 2A State titles and had reached the State final four 20 times in the past 25 seasons. Fallston scored early in the second half following a scoreless first period. The Cougars added a controversial goal with 17 minutes to play.
A Fallston pass deflected off an official in the circle, CHS was caught out of position as the ball careened in the opposite direction leaving a wide open shot for Fallston’s Irma Caldwell.
Larmore protested but the goal was allowed. CHS lost 2-0. “It’s not the ending we wanted,” said Todd.