The final field hockey poll will delight some, disappoint some and, perhaps, bewilder others.
Westminster, who completed its season with a perfect 19-0 record, winds up at No. 1 after winning a very tough, 5-4 overtime game against Dulaney, in the 4A MPSSAA state final. A week ago, the Owls were No. 3.
Meanwhile Glenelg, last week’s No. 1, slips to No. 2 despite winning the 2A title and completing the season, 19-1.
So, how did that happen?
Westminster was stuck outside the Top 3 for much of the season as Severna Park, South River and Glenelg exchanged the top three spots, losing only to each other. Severna Park ended the regular season as No. 1, but then lost the District V championship game to Glenelg, 2-1, which had lost to South River early in the season.
South River went to No. 1, Glenelg to No. 2 and Severna Park to No. 3. But then South River lost to Severna Park, costing it the No. 1 spot. Glenelg moved up to No. 1. Severna Park moved up to No. 2. Westminster, which had been No. 4 finally, broke into the Top 3.
Then came this week. Westminster beat No. 2 Severna Park, a team Glenelg had just gotten by, with a dominating 4-1 margin. Glenelg beat No. 6 Century, 2-1. That was the same score Westminster had beaten Century by a month ago.
Glenelg had done nothing to lose the top spot. Westminster had done everything it possibly could to earn it. What could be looked at to determine who should be No. 1?
The answer, besides watching both teams play – and there was little to separate them – was the result of their individual games against common opponents: Century and Severna Park. Westminster was the more dominant team against both those opponents, and much more dominant against Severna Park, which Westminster and Glenelg played within two weeks of each other.
Severna Park may not have been overly enthusiastic about playing the Glenelg game, but Glenelg was psyched to beat No. 1 and a team that had 19 state championships already in its back pocket. Even so, the Gladiators could only manage a 1-goal victory.
Westminster, meanwhile, with the same inspiration as Glenelg, played Severna Park, whose players were nothing if not inspired to win the quarterfinal confrontation as they sought to stay on track to win the Falcons’ sixth straight title and 20th overall. And yet Westminster won, 4-1.
Given all that, Westminster gets the nod, the tiniest nod. Either team would be a terrific choice.
Both were strong defensively, with Westminster producing a remarkable 11 shutouts with senior Emily Colliflower in goal, to Glenelg’s eight with senior goalie Christy Bishop playing most of the time.
Glenelg held the advantage in goal scoring, out-producing its opponents by an impressive, 132-14, with junior Alyssa Parker (38 goals, 38 assists) and Kayleigh Hinkle (34 goals, 17 assists) doing the heaviest lifting. Westminster outscored its opponents 70-13, with senior Meghan Macera (23 goals, 10 assists) leading the way.
And each gave up more than one goal in a game just twice.
So have at it. Consider the year-ending No. 1 ranking a starting point for a good argument about who should have been No. 1. But don’t forget to appreciate all the teams and the tremendous seasons each one of them had, doing their best and giving it their all no matter at what school they played.