Just a year ago, the Indian Creek School girls’ lacrosse program produced a five-win season, was without a league to call its own and had no opportunity to compete for a championship.
Now, following a 2013 regular season that saw Indian Creek tear through its schedule en route to a 15-4 record in its first spring playing in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference, the Eagles have undergone a profound transformation, capping the sea change in championship fashion on May 11 by defeating Chapelgate Christian 9-6 in the IAAM C Conference final at Gerstell Academy.
Abbi O’Neal’s four goals, Margot White’s two, Delaney Kearns’ 12 saves and a collective hustle and determination that has defined the entire season powered Indian Creek against Chapelgate, as the Eagles (18-4) achieved the difficult tasks of beating the Yellow Jackets three times this season and knocking them from their perch as reigning conference champions.
The win is the first championship in girls’ athletics in the history of Indian Creek and comes on the heels of the school’s first championship ever, the MIAA C Conference crown won by the boys’ basketball team this past February.
“Nobody used to see us as a threat,” said White, one of the team’s two seniors along with four-year starter Kiana Dawson. “We have grown so much, and I am so proud of everyone on the team. We knew we could do this, and we just proved it to ourselves, and it feels great.”
The Eagles reached the title game after a 12-7 win over Key School in the quarterfinals and a 13-8 victory over Beth T’Filoh in the semis earlier in the week, and they left no doubt as to their ownership of the conference championship against Chapelgate.
The Yellow Jackets struck first, breaking a scoreless opening eight minutes with an unassisted goal by senior Jen Yahiro. Two minutes later, Indian Creek’s Corinne Woodson, a defensive midfielder, broke the ice by stripping a Chapelgate attackman of the ball and going the length of the field to score and tie the game at 1-1.
Another nine minutes passed without a goal, much to the credit of Kearns. The Indian Creek junior goalkeeper made save after save, multiple times stuffing point-blank attempts after Chapelgate had cracked the Eagle defense. Kearns had eight saves in the half as the incredulous Yellow Jackets repeatedly looked to one another in search of answers.
“It’s the best game she’s ever had,” said Indian Creek Head Coach Steve Willett of Kearns’ mighty performance. “She came up big for us. You’re not going to win a championship without a hot goalie.”
O’Neal, a freshman who has made waves this spring as the county’s top scorer (she had 97 goals in 20 matches entering the title game), scored from the right edge of the crease to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead with under seven minutes in the half. Indian Creek would never trail again.
Fellow freshman Ashley Leverett scored on a drive down the middle to give ICS a 3-1 lead, and they held Chapelgate at 3-2 at half.
“The kids were a little bit tentative in the first half,” said Willett. “The thing we were concerned about was beating the defending champ three times in one season. They’re a very good team, a very well-coached team, so that certainly had our attention. But they stuck to our game plan, and in the second half they picked it up.”
It took less than a minute for the Eagles to find the goal to open the second, as White rolled inside and stung the top of the net from a nearly impossible angle on the left side of the crease. O’Neal followed moments later with her second score to give the Eagles a 5-2 lead.
Chapelgate’s Emma Rufolo—who finished with a game-high five goals and was Chapelgate’s only source of offense in the second half, scoring all four of the Yellow Jackets’ goals in the frame—scored to give her side a shred of hope at 5-3.
O’Neal responded with a score—her 100th of the season—baiting a Chapelgate triple team by athletically backpedaling away from the goal before blazing past the trio and scoring for a 6-3 Indian Creek lead.
O’Neal scored again moments later after a shooting space penalty, then set a pick to free White, who scored on a roll-around to make it 8-3 with nine minutes to play.
Rufolo would score twice more to cut it to 8-5, but junior Ali King provided the final dagger by converting a long pass from Kacee Helm with two minutes to play. Rufolo’s last goal came at the 1:04 mark, but it was too little, too late, and the final whistle sent the Eagles into a pile-on celebration in front of their goal.
Dawson spoke of the long road she and White have taken as the team’s seniors and of leaving a legacy as members of the school’s first girls’ athletics championship team.
“The emotions are overwhelming to me,” said Dawson, who had 47 goals and 13 assists for the Eagles this season. “I remember when we were recognized as underdogs, and everyone took us for granted basically. Now it’s good to say that we’re on top…Our bonds are extremely strong. We have strong bonds where if one needs help, we’re all there. It’s no one individual doing the job. It’s all of us as one unit. It just feels great. I don’t have words to express how happy I am right now.”
Click here to view a full photo gallery of the Indian Creek School girls' lacrosse team in its championship win over Chapelgate.
This article will appear in the May 30 print issue of the Severna Park Voice.