By Nelson Coffin
A letter Lindsey Daly penned to Dulaney Coach Tina Wasowicz the day before last week's Class 4A-3A state championship was clear and to the point.
The senior promised she would make her last game in a Lion uniform special.
Unfortunately, the outcome of the game didn't match Daly's effort.
She scored a pair of goals in a contest that was never really close, as Broadneck dealt Dulaney a 10-3 whipping at UMBC.
"Their defense was right on us," admitted Daly, a sophomore, junior and senior class president and National Honor Society member. "We didn't settle down as much as we should have."
The Bruins (16-3) were bold enough to bring T-shirts to the contest proclaiming a first-ever state title and acted accordingly, jumping out to a 7-1 advantage at halftime.
Dulaney's only goal in that stretch came from Daly.
Katie Leland, the Lions' leading scorer, gobbled up a ground ball and skirted the crease before stinging the net early in the second half.
By the time Daly rifled in a rebound for the Lions' third goal, Broadneck was already in double digits.
The Bruins were content to play against the clock at that point, rather than run up the score.
"They were just incredible," said Wasowicz. "They knew exactly where to pass even if they didn't have a shot. And we couldn't couldn't handle the ball today. We've been a little inconsistent with that all year."
The Lions, stymied on offense in settled situations, simply couldn't run with such a fleet rival. The Bruins' air-tight defense did not allow anybody to shake free for long.
And when Broadneck had the ball, Dulaney goalie Livvy King (8 saves) had to be on guard every second, unless junior Ashleigh Smith was causing an enemy turnover to allow the senior keeper some time to relax.
The Bruins launched 17 shots in the first period before becoming much more conservative in the final 25 minutes with the game in hand.
The Lions at least didn't have to agonize over what-might-have-been, like when they fell short of a first state banner last year in the waning seconds against Severna Park on a controversial charging call.
This year's squad was not supposed to be nearly as good.
At least, that was the conventional wisdom on the subject until Dulaney picked up the pace in the playoffs. The Lions vaulted into the finals by edging Fallston, 6-5, in the semifinals while Broadneck outlasted defending state champion Severna Park, 4-3, in a grudge match.
"Nobody expected us to get this far," said Daly, voted best all-around student by her classmates. "But we thought we could. We did it for ourselves."
Daly, headed for Maryland after scoring 1,320 on the SATs, made her final appearance memorable.
Unlike her opponents, she and Dulaney had never faced a test quite as difficult as the one posed by the Bruins.
"We didn't have much competition in regionals," said Daly, alluding to easy triumphs over Perry Hall and Parkville that might have given the Lions a false sense of security.
E-mail Nelson Coffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.