When Frederick County Public Schools sports were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, we thought it would be fun to ask readers to pick the best Frederick County high school teams of all-time in each sport to help fill the void.
Every week during the hiatus, we have featured a sport and listed contenders from years past in that sport. Even though FCPS competitions resumed this week, there are still some sports we haven’t given readers a chance to vote on, so we will keep going until we’ve presented them all.
Readers can visit fredericknewspost.com to vote for the team they think is best. We’ll do this for all sports, fall, winter and spring.
Each Thursday, when we list candidates for another sport, we’ll reveal the team from the previous week’s sport that got the most votes.
This week’s sport: Girls lacrosse. May the best team win.
2005 Urbana Hawks
Accomplishments: Class 3A-2A state finalist, MVAL East Division champion, 15-4 record
Yes, the 2005 Urbana Hawks became the first Frederick County lacrosse team — girls or boys — to reach a state championship game.
While being a pioneer is significant, that’s not why this team merited being included on this list.
This team is on the list because it was completely stacked. While Urbana had been Frederick County’s undisputed top team since lacrosse became a varsity sport in 2000, the 2005 edition proved to be the strongest of those stellar Urbana teams from the 2000s.
Leading the way for the Hawks were a pair of stars who earned Frederick News-Post Co-Player of the Year honors, Bethany Buzzell and Mara Sardella. Buzzell, who led the area with 67 goals and 24 assists, became the first Urbana player to earn first-team All-American honors from USLAX and later went on to play at Brown University. Mara Sardella, who had a knack for scooping up ground balls and defended some of her opponents’ top players, earned USLAX honorable mention honors and went on to play La Salle University.
Those were just two of Urbana’s many standouts. The Hawks also had Frederick News-Post all-county first-teamers Sandy Abel (goalie, later played at Rutgers), Karie McGuire (later played at Rutgers), Haley Smith (later starred at UMass), Rochelle Herron, Erinn Hopkins and Kendall Gysin (later played at Ohio State), along with even more weapons.
All that talent was guided by coach Bill Sardella, who also ran the Frederick Stars Lacrosse Club, which was instrumental in developing Frederick County players as they tried to hold their own against other areas of Maryland that possessed considerably more history in lacrosse.
No wonder Urbana managed to down Catonsville 16-13 in the state semifinals, earning a trip to the state final. And aside from talent, they had moxie. Buzzell had four goals, Smith scored with the game tied at 12 and later all-but iced the win by scoring with 1:38 left, while Abel made clutch saves.
“They’re just tough kids,” Sardella said.
Any doubt of that was erased by Gysin, who played against Catonsville with a broken wrist suffered in the regional championship game. She even brought her lacrosse stick to the doctor’s office, wanting to make sure she could hold it while wearing her cast.
“[The doctor] said, ‘That’s your choice,’” Gysin said. “It hurt a little. But sitting on the sideline or playing — that wasn’t a [tough] choice.”
Don’t fault the Hawks for not winning a state title, either (no Frederick County girls team has yet done so, by the way). In the final, Urbana faced Mount Hebron, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation by lax.com and featured a senior class that, after beating Urbana 11-5, departed with a 74-0 record and helped the Vikings win their ninth straight state crown and 13th overall at the time.
“Losing to Hebron isn’t a bad thing at all,” Urbana junior Kerrin Marchese said. “I’m just so proud of our team. We’ve really come a long way.”
It would take nine years for another Frederick County girls lacrosse team to reach a state championship game, and that team is on this list.
2006 Walkersville Lions
Accomplishments: Class 3A-2A state semifinalist, 15-3 record
The 2006 Walkersville Lions ended Urbana’s reign as Frederick County’s top team, a position it had held since lacrosse became a varsity sport in 2000, and the Lions did so in a marquee setting.
Walkersville pulled out a gritty 10-8 overtime win over Urbana in the Class 3A-2A West region final, becoming the first Frederick County team to beat Urbana and making the Lions just the second county program to reach the state semifinals.
The first team to reach the MPSSAA final four, of course, was Urbana, which had done so twice and seemed poised for its third regional crown after taking a three-goal lead over the Lions in the first half of the 2006 final.
But Walkersville stormed back and got what proved to be game-winning goal from Lindsey Coon, who scored with one second left in the first overtime.
Ashley White added an insurance goal in the second overtime period, which ended with 16 seconds left due to the threat of lightning, helping her pregame prediction of a victory come true.
In fact, Lions coach Mark Snyder reportedly painted lines on his team’s practice field before beating the Hawks, signaling his belief that there would still be a need for practices after that game.
Walkersville then came oh-so-close to reaching the state championship game, falling 10-9 to Stephen Decatur in the 3A-2A semis. With the game tied, Decatur’s Amy Buckley scored the game-winner with 1 minute, 7 seconds remaining.
Coon’s potentially game-tying shot glanced off the lower portion of the crossbar with about 40 seconds left. While disappointed, the Lions enjoyed a magical season.
“I’ve never been part of a team like this before,” White said. “Nobody ever thought we would get this far.”
Walkersville senior Elisabeth Hildebrand had 64 goals and 14 assists, earning Frederick News-Post Co-Player of the Year honors and later starring at Frostburg State. Aside from her, the Lions also would lose senior Brandi Williams, a defender who earned all-county first-team honors.
But with Coon (42 goals, 23 assists and an eventual University of Delaware player) and fellow junior all-county first-teamer White (78 goals, 29 assists) coming back, not to mention second team midfielder Kristen Snyder, the Lions returned to the state semifinals the following season.
2010 St. John’s Catholic Prep Vikings
Accomplishments: IAAM C Conference champions, 17-0 record
After winning all but two of its regular-season matches by double digits, it was fair to wonder how the 2010 St. John’s Catholic Prep Vikings would fare in close games with high stakes.
The Vikings answered that question in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference championship game, holding on for a 9-7 win over St. Timothy’s to capture their second straight IAAM C title and cap a perfect 17-0 season.
As usual, Jennie Ballenger paced the Vikings, finishing with four goals and two assists. The UMBC-bound senior led all Frederick County scorers in 2010 with 91 goals and 35 assists, earning Frederick News-Post co-offensive player of the year honors.
Vikings coach Katelyn Catanese thought one of Ballenger’s most striking qualities was her ambidextrous stick-work, which the natural right-hander enhanced by using both hands to constantly throw a ball against a wall.
“She does it almost like it’s another language for her,” Catanese told The Frederick News-Post. “She’s fluent — you can’t tell which hand’s her strong hand.”
Ballenger wasn’t the Vikings’ only offensive threat, either. In the IAAM final, sophomore Marial Pierce had two goals, and fellow sophomore Brooke Wilson scored a late insurance goal.
Wilson, who went on to play at Richmond, earned Frederick News-Post all-county first-team honors, finishing with 59 goals and 21 assists. Pierce, an all-county second-teamer, later played at Monmouth.
Senior Megan Middeke also was an all-county second-teamer, and goalie Hannah Geerlings and defenders Hannah Killduff and Alexis Truxillo bolstered the defense.
2014 Oakdale Bears
Accomplishments: Class 3A-2A state finalist, MVAL Piedmont champion, 16-3 record
Playing just their third season as a varsity program, the 2014 Oakdale Bears enjoyed a dominant season that saw them become the first Frederick County girls team in nine years to reach a state championship game.
Beth Nave, who had extensive coaching experience in lacrosse-rich Carroll County, built the program from scratch and, despite an 18-5 loss to Marriotts Ridge in the Class 3A-2A state final, was pleased with the rapid progress.
“We had expectations to make it here. Maybe not so soon,” Nave told The Frederick News-Post after losing in the state championship.
Oakdale opened the 2014 season with eight straight wins, including one-goal victories over Carroll County powers Westminster (where Nave had coached) and Century. And despite moving up to Class 3A-2A, the Bears rolled through the regional playoffs.
Oakdale’s Carly Heine, a junior who later played for the University of Michigan and became a student assistant there after suffering a career-ending injury, was The Frederick News-Post offensive player of the year. She finished with 60 goals and eight assists and was named to the Western Maryland Chapter 2014 US Lacrosse Girls High School All-America team.
Other Bears who earned all-county first-team honors in 2014 were East Carolina-bound sophomore Emma Bowman (30 goals, 35 assists), junior defender Olivia Cunha, junior Emily Delorenzo (63 goals, 12 assists), and University of Michigan-bound sophomore Sara Parnes (43 goals, 19 assists, 51 draw controls, 38 ground balls).
Oakdale second-teamers were George Mason-bound goalie Melissa Semkiw, University of Oregon-bound sophomore Caroline Jaworski, senior Ali Kula and senior Katie Delorenzo.
With so many talented underclassmen, the Bears remained a power. In fact, they reached the state championship game again in 2016, becoming the only Frederick County program to do so more than once.
2015 Middletown Knights
Accomplishments: Class 3A-2A state semifinalist, 11-8 record
The traditionally strong Knights enjoyed one of their most successful seasons in 2015, reaching the state final four for the first time in program history.
And don’t be fooled by the 11-8 record. Middletown played a grueling schedule in 2015 to toughen itself up for the playoffs.
Six of the Knights’ losses came to teams from lacrosse hotbed Carroll County, including two that won state titles in 2015, Manchester Valley and Century, which beat Middletown in the regular season and in the state semifinals.
The other losses came to John Carroll, which went 13-5 that season in one of the nation’s toughest high school lacrosse leagues, the IAAM A Conference, and to Frederick County power Oakdale (a loss that was avenged).
But Middletown won nine of its final 11 games to earn a rematch with Century in the state semis, where it lost 19-2.
“I knew that they had it in them,” Middletown coach Gretchen Martin told The Frederick News-Post. “It was just a matter of getting them all on the right page at the right time.”
Signs of the team’s progress were evident in the playoffs, where the Knights beat Oakdale 8-6 to earn a spot in the regional championship, where they rolled to a 9-2 win over Damascus.
Middletown’s defense was led by senior goalie Carly Tolino, who earned Frederick News-Post Defensive Player of the Year and U.S. Lacrosse Girls High School First-Team All-America honors and went on to play at UMBC. She had a .520 save percentage and a goals against average of 7.1.
Other Middletown all-county first-teamers were American University-bound senior Samantha Breeze (36 goals, 13 assists, 34 ground balls and 25 draw controls), Duquesne University-bound junior midfield Rilee Bradshaw (team-high 55 goals, five assists, 28 draw controls) and UMBC-bound senior Brittany Levine (36 goals, 16 assists, 52 draw controls and 32 ground balls). Second-teamers were Winthrop-bound junior Emily Delauter, Seton Hill-bound senior Hannah Powell and junior Kaitlyn Ridenour, who went on to Mount St. Mary’s and earned NEC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2019.
By decade’s end, the Knights were still a power.
2019 Middletown Knights
Accomplishments: Central Maryland Conference champion, CMC Gambrill champion, Class 2A West region finalist, 14-4 record
This was an extremely talented team that had the misfortune of being in the same region as eventual state champion South Carroll, which fended off the Knights for an 8-2 win in the regional championship game.
How good were the Knights? Good enough to pull out a 7-6 win over traditionally powerful Oakdale. Good enough to win their first CMC championship game, rolling to a 17-4 win over a quality Tuscarora team. And good enough to make South Carroll work hard for a win en route to its first state crown.
Here’s what opposing coaches saw.
“There is no way you can replicate that speed [in practice]. They’ve got speed. They’ve got skill. They are well-coached,” Tuscarora coach Brad Gray told The Frederick News-Post after the CMC title game. “They know what they are doing.”
The scary thing is, many of those players were still in the early stages of their careers. Middletown’s Jade Catlin, Isabella Ewine, Alyssa Daley, Bailey Broadbent and Brynn Hoffman — who all earned Frederick News-Post all-county first-team honors — were sophomores. Their junior teammates Shanna Dextradeur, Maggie Reed and Madison Stewart were juniors.
Virginia Tech-bound Catlin, who would help her Baltimore team win the Under Armour All-America national championship in 2020, had a team-high 49 goals as well as 109 draw controls, 18 assists, 47 ground balls and 33 caused turnovers for the Knights.
Ewine had a Frederick County-best 104 points (37 goals, 67 assists) along with a team-high 75 ground balls and 29 caused turnovers. Broadbent had 26 goals, 11 assist and 27 ground balls, and Daley had 28 goals, 10 assists and 53 draws.
That young group got to play with senior standouts Brigette Remsburg, a goalie who had a 57.3 save percentage and 5.21 goals against average en route to earning Frederick News-Post Defensive Player of the Year honors, and Kate McLister, a midfielder who earned second-team honors.
Remsberg’s ability to block shots loomed large in close games like the signature win over Oakdale.
“From the girls on the sideline to the girls on the field, those saves add energy across the field,” Knights coach Tyler White said.
With so many young players performing key roles, the Knights seemed poised for more dominance in 2020, but that season got wiped out by the coronavirus. Still, many of those players should get an opportunity to show what they’re capable of this spring.