The 2012 season was special for Crisfield High field hockey and the entire Lady Crabbers athletic programs. Girl sports at CHS struggled year after year through the early days of the Bayside Conference. No Division titles, no Regional or State championships, the Lady Crabbers finished at or near the bottom nearly every season in all sports.
Crisfield’s fortunes picked up in the early 2000s, CHS reached the Regional basketball final in 2002 and 2003, compiling the first winning record in decades in ’03. Crisfield became more competitive in field hockey, they challenged for Division titles, had winning records and victories over longtime nemesis Pocomoke, still, CHS came up short in their quest for a championship banner.
Emily Larmore guided Crisfield to their first Bayside and Regional crowns along with a berth in the 1A State final. CHS fell in their bid for State honors, so near yet so far. “It’s not the ending we wanted but we made it here and its something to be proud of. It’s still a good ending win or lose,” said senior Carly Todd, one of 7 Crisfield seniors whose championship dreams faded at the final whistle.
The Lady Crabbers were at the top of the heap if only briefly, they proved they were the best in the Bayside. They could finally chant “We’re number one,” they could shout it to the rooftops, they had earned it, no one could take it away. Crisfield’s first ever State championship final. “I hope its not the last time for any CHS team,” said freshman Arielle Johnston.
Crisfield would not repeat in 2013, the Lady Crabbers have not made it to the State final since, no Division crowns since that ground breaking season. CHS did win Regional titles in 2017 and 2018 before the COVID outbreak, before the shrinking population and the numbers game caught up to an already shorthanded program. Larmore lost 7 starters and opened the 2013 season with just 2 seniors on her roster. Kent claimed Regional honors, Pocomoke bounced back with East titles in 2014 and 2015 taking the State crown in 2015. Queen Annes won the East in 2016, CHS beat Washington 2-1 but fell to Pocomoke by the same score in the playoffs.
Crisfield with Jen McDorman as the new head coach opened 2017 with a pair of losses to Queen Anne’s and Parkside followed by blow out wins over St. Michaels and North Caroline, Kent a team that CHS would see again in the playoffs handed Crisfield a 3-2 road loss. Kent Island defeated CHS 7-1 their only loss by more than one goal. Crisfield closed out the regular season with their two chief rivals. Lainie Pruitt first half goal powered CHD past Washington, but Pocomoke prevailed 3-2 as the Lady Crabbers finished 5-7.
Sectional tournament play saw CHS at Washington in the first round. Crisfield dominated first half action but it was 0-0 at the break. Crisfield had 8 shots and 6 penalty corners in the opening period. Washington threatened in the early moments of the final stanza to no avail. Freshman Clair McCullough put CHS up 1-0, the advantage held and Crisfield advanced. “It’s the best I played all year, I was really happy,” said McCullough. The freshman’s heroics would continue.
Crisfield’s next stop, Pocomoke where CHS lost a 3-2 decision just 2 weeks before. The Warriors easily dispatched St. Michaels 6-0 in their semifinal. Crisfield pressed hard in the final 5 minutes of the first half, 3 corners came up empty however, second half action, back and forth, defense dominating, then at the 9:34 mark Crisfield earned a corner which was set up on a steal by McCullough. Pruitt had a shot deflected out of bounds by the goalie resulting in another corner.
The second time was the charm, McCullough scored and CHS led 1-0 with 8 minutes to play.
Pocomoke made a determined run in the final 3 minutes; 3 corners were stymied by the Lady Crabbers defense. CHS held on to defeat the Bayside champion Warriors. Crisfield had been on the road their last 4 games, they would get to host the Regional final against Section I champ Kent, another team that had defeated CHS during the regular season. Kent overpowered Elkton 3-0 and Perryville 7-0 to reach the final. The Lady Crabbers wasted no time getting first half goals from Anabelle Mrohs and Miikayla Conner but defense was the story.
Crisfield blanked the Trojans for their fourth consecutive shutout. Kent had 10 goals in their previous 2 playoff contests and 3 goals in their mid season win over CHS.
Regional champs once again, the Lady Crabbers would face Patuxent in the 1A State semis. Patuxent a 2A school in other sports is located in Calvert County with an enrollment of 1036 (9-12). The Panthers scored quickly, a goal in the first 2 minutes, they added 2 more first half tallies. Lainie Pruitt got Crisfield on the board with just under 3 minutes in the half. Pruitt assisted Anabelle Mrohs on Crisfield’s second half goal but the Southern Maryland crew added 2 more advancing with a 5-2 victory.
“I thought we did great against a team that hadn’t been scored in since October,” said McCullough. Patuxent won the State title, CHS would make another run next year. Hannah Sterling, who played at Division I Liberty University, took over coaching duties in 2018-19. Victories over Queen Anne’s, St. Michaels, Kent and North Caroline put CHS at 4-1 but Division losses to Parkside, Bennett and Washington eliminated the Lady Crabbers from any South title hopes. Crisfield defeated Pocomoke 2-0 but lost to Washington 2-1 to end regular season at 7-5.
Crisfield would not see the Jaguars again and opened Regional action with a 3-1 win over St. Michaels, Pruitt had all 3 goals as CHS rallied from a 1-1 halftime deadlock. Pruitt had 2 goals, McCullough 1 to lead the Lady Crabbers past Pocomoke 3-0 in the semifinal. Crisfield would host the Regional final for the second straight year and Kent would provide the opposition once again. Crisfield dominated the Trojans 5-0 in October and as the game progressed it appeared another blowout was in the making. Pruitt had 4 first half goals and Crisfield led 4-1 going into the second period.
The Lady Crabbers had a seemingly comfortable 5-1 advantage early in the second half but Kent suddenly found their groove and closed to within 5-4 and had the ball in the CHS circle as the clock ran out. “They were way more aggressive in the second half,” said Pruitt, who finished the season with 23 goals and 8 assists. Eventual State champ South Carroll defeated CHS 2-0 in the State semis, Crisfield 10-6 on the year.
Many CHS field hockey players have taken their game to the next level. Melody Higgs, Courtney Flaherty, Rachel Evans, Taylor Swann, Anabelle Mrohs, Emily Ford (Larmore), Arielle Johnston, Kate Stevens, Lanie Pruitt, Chelsey Duncan and Emma Lankford to name a few.