Gratifying girls lacrosse win for Knights over Bears

Coming off back-to-back losses to Manchester Valley and South Carroll, Middletown’s girls lacrosse team would’ve settled for any sort of win in Thursday’s regular-season finale.

But the particulars of the Knights’ 11-9 victory over Oakdale were extra gratifying.

For starters, this was a team win, with six different scorers, hounding defenders and goalie Maddy Harshman making vital contributions.

And this was Middletown’s first triumph in three tries against a fellow member of Frederick County’s top four club, following losses to No. 1 Urbana and No. 2 Linganore in March, and it came on the road.

“I think we really stepped it up as a team,” Knights sophomore Lily Brown said. “We just had a loss against South Carroll on Tuesday, so I think coming into this we were really hungry for a win and we really took that and ran with it.”

As far as runs go, this was a relay of sorts. No single Middletown player stole the show, including in scoring.

Brown led the way with three goals and one assist. Senior Haylee Bentley had three goals. Kate Stamper had two goals. Kacie Phillips had one goal and three assists. Clara Stamper and Kam Appel each had one goal. Madelyn Parmenter and Reily Kennedy each had one assist.

And in a game that stayed tight all night, even when the Bears were forced to play the entire fourth quarter shorthanded after getting their fourth yellow card late in the third, each of Harshman’s seven saves loomed large.

“It was nice to play a full game. I think we really needed that heading into the playoffs,” said Knights coach Kaitlyn Dudley, whose team will first face Boonsboro in Saturday’s CMC Small School championship game. “And from goalie all the way down to our low attackers, we really put it all together tonight.”

The Knights (8-6) lost four of their first five games this season. Not only did they face a gauntlet of tough teams early on, but they also had to deal with several changes.

Middletown graduated a lot of talent, including Frederick News-Post Offensive Player of the Year Ellery Bowman and Defensive Player of the Year Helen Bartman, the goalie, from a team that reached last year’s Class 2A state final.

And early this season, Dudley replaced Tyler White as head coach.

But the Knights won six straight before losing to juggernaut Manchester Valley on April 24.

“I think we’ve all definitely stepped up and took on a role this year to fill in what we had last year,” Bentley said. “We had some struggles in the beginning of the year, and we had some coaching adjustments, but we really adapted to it pretty well.

Aside from proven veterans like Kate Stamper, the Knights began to get production from players like Bentley, who said she mostly saw action in the team’s less competitive games last season.

Likewise, Brown spent most of last season on the bench, but she was starting at attack on Thursday.

“I think I’ve tried to do my part as a player for the team, to score or get an assist or wherever it’s needed to just get the ball in the back of the net,” she said.

Getting the ball in the back of the net was a must for the Knights after Oakdale tied the game at 6 on Allison Finley’s goal during the first minute of the third quarter.

But with 6:51 left in the third, Brown slipped around the left post, faked a shot and then scored to get the first of four unanswered Middletown goals.

Middletown’s 10-6 lead seemed safe when the Bears got their fourth yellow card of the night with 1:12 left in the third. But the Bears got two goals from Avery Ray and one from Kaitlyn Staiger to keep the pressure on until they were two players down after getting another card with a little over 2 minutes left.

Oakdale (7-5) was coming off losses to Carroll County powers Liberty and Manchester Valley.

“We fight hard, we play hard. Sometimes we come up a little short,” Bears coach Erika Thompson said. “But we’ve got a lot of girls with a lot of talent that are still learning to play together, some new faces this year and new positions this year. But overall, we’re hoping we can move on from this and take some momentum into the playoffs.”

Ray had three goals. Finley had two goals and three assists.

Riley Bova and Anna Alt each had one goal and one assist. Paige Overeem had one goal. Riley Gibbons had 10 saves.