Crisfield High School’s field hockey season ended abruptly in 2011, the Lady Crabbers were looking to make a run that year and be in a duel with East favorite Pocomoke in the Regional final.
Their finals berth was annulled, Crisfield was ousted in the semifinal by an aggressive and persistent Washington High team, one they had easily defeated in regular season play. CHS fell 2-0 in this sloppily played affair. The Lady Crabbers were fundamentally disoriented, plagued by missed hits, poor passing, and were unable to generate any offense.
Coach Emily Larmore felt that Crisfield could challenge Pocomoke in 2011, the Lady Crabbers were skilled and physically talented but basically defense oriented. Crisfield’s performance in the semifinal contest with the Jaguars left CHS with something to think about, a lot of glitches to mull over during the summer months. Washington fell to Pocomoke in the East final. The Warriors advanced to the 1A title game losing to Fallston 4-2.
Pocomoke was the defending State champ in 2011, the MPSSAA dropped some larger schools down to 1A, these schools 2A in every other sport, dominated 1A from 2001 on. Fallston, a program with 12 2A titles prior to 2011 repeated in 2012, followed by back-to-back wins by North Carroll. Pocomoke did temporarily pause the onslaught in 2015, however, Liberty, Patuxent and South Carroll won 1A crowns from 2016 to 2019. Pocomoke returned to the top in 2021 and currently holds the title of defending champions.
Last season 10 of the 31 1A field hockey schools were dropped down from 2A, many 1A schools do not carry the sport especially in Western Maryland. The MPSSAA realigned field hockey Regions in 2011 in an attempt to distribute even numbers in all 4 classes. The move didn’t do any favors for the existing smaller institutions. Class 1A is very lopsided overall. Lake Clifton at the top has 805 students in 9 through 11, by the time you reach CHS, third from the bottom the number has dropped to 267, Pocomoke 306, Washington 388.
The Lady Crabbers did not face a true 1A in either of their 3 trips to the State finals.
Crisfield had put together some outstanding teams over the years but they had the misfortune of playing in the same Region with Pocomoke, the Lady Crabbers have been the bridesmaids and never the bride, they couldn’t get past the Warriors. Crisfield’s plight is reminiscent of the Chicago White Sox of the 1950s and their perennial nemesis the New York Yankees. New York dominated the American League from 1949 to 1964, the exception being the 1954 and 1959 seasons. The White Sox finally broke through in ’59, subduing the mighty Yankees who actually finished third.
Chicago struggled in September, held on, but lost to the Dodgers in the World Series. Crisfield’s 2012 campaign would endure similar phases.
Crisfield was set to step up in 2012, Coach Larmore had a veteran cast ready to take the stage, including a seasoned group of senior starters. Paige Swift, Taylor Marshall, Cassidy Marshall, Ashlyn Heath, Joanne Swift, Carly Todd and Elaine Dize. They had played together since grade school through middle school and now it was their last hurrah, this year or never. The meltdown in the 2011 semis haunted them, they didn’t want a repeat performance.
Larmore was confidently expecting CHS to deliver a break through season. “I felt really confidant at the start, we did really well in two summer leagues. I knew the skill level was there we just had to tweak sim things, get them out there and just hope they didn’t get distracted by senior activities,” said Larmore, assisted by her mother Vicky Ford.
Larmore and Ford played at CHS, neither had experienced a championship season. Joining the seniors were junior Rachael Evans, sophomores Blair Landon and Naomi Barnes and a newcomer, talented freshman Arielle Johnston destined for future stardom at CHS and Salisbury University. Hailie Brumley, Julie Evans, Alexis McCready and Danielle Burke rounded out Larmore’s squad.
The Lady Crabbers were only 15 players deep, 4 left the team before the season began. Complicating Larmore’s shorthanded predicament Paige Swift and Landon were briefly sidelined with medical issues.
Crisfield opened the season with 5 consecutive wins and CHS led the South which included Pocomoke, Washington, Bennett, Parkside, Decatur, the other South schools did not carry a field hockey program. Crisfield visited North contender Easton and suffered their first and only regular season defeat. “The North officials call a different game we had trouble adjusting,” said Vicky Ford.
The Lady Crabbers struggled offensively, one of the tweaks Larmore was looking to correct. “Our offense got hung up and we made some changes,” Larmore said. The loss served as a wake-up call, CHS ran the table finishing the regular season with 6 straight wins, including wins over Parkside, Washington and a huge 2-1 OT triumph over Pocomoke.
Crisfield dominated the Warriors but still found themselves dead even as regulation time expired. It was a must win for CHS they needed this victory over their longtime rivals.
Crisfield’s win over Pocomoke clinched the South title but there was one Division contest remaining. Bennett hosted CHS and the Clippers packed in their defense but Elaine Dize broke through and CHS won 1-0. “We didn’t want to win by the tiebreaker we wanted that 5-0 record,” said Larmore.
CHS would not see Pocomoke or Easton again in 2012, Easton lost the North to Kent Island, Pocomoke lost to Parkside in the Regionals. A championship for the Lady Crabbers at last. The basketball team was on the verge in 2002 and 2003 but it was field hockey that flew the first banner.
The Lady Crabbers ended regular season play at home against North champ Kent Island. This would serve as a preview of the Bayside championship the following week. It was all Crisfield the Lady Crabbers blanked the North champs 3-0 on a pair of goals from Ashlyn Heath, and one by Taylor Marshall. The visiting Buccaneers started strong keeping the ball in the CHS end the first 10 minutes but Crisfield took charge for this Senior Day victory. Kent Island would get another chance.