When it became clear St. Ignatius wasn’t going to let Fenwick play the way it wanted to offensively in Saturday’s state championship game at Stevenson, the Friars decided to play the Wolfpack’s game.
The result was a stifling defensive effort as the Friars posted a 6-3 win to reclaim the state title. The Friars lost in the quarterfinals last year after winning the previous two titles. It marks eight state titles since 2004 for the program.
“They really tried to keep us from getting into our counter,” Fenwick coach John Wagner said. “So instead, we limited their shots. Basically what we said is that if you want to play your style and we can’t get you out of it, we’re going to play your style and we’ll beat you at your style.”
For the third time in as many games at the state tournament, Fenwick (31-2), was down at the half.
Goals from Tammy Stelnicki and Beca Martinez staked the Wolfpack (24-6) to a 2-1 halftime lead.
“It definitely is scary at times, but we’re a second-half team,” Fenwick senior Colleen Barron said. “We have a lot of intensity. We try to make sure that we swim them as much as we can so we can hang on in the second half.”
Barron helped turn the tide offensively. She scored three goals as part of a 5-0 Fenwick run to start the second half, a run that spilled into the fourth quarter.
Holding a 6-2 lead early in the fourth, Fenwick was well on its way to beating St. Ignatius for a fifth time this season.
“At that point in time, it was just a math game,” Wagner said. “We don’t need to score. We can give up one, but we can’t give up two. When we dodged a bullet [when St. Ignatius hit the post on several shots], that was all it took.”
St. Ignatius captured the first state championship in school history last spring, and getting back with a chance to defend that title was the primary goal all season.
“I’m so proud of the fight in the girls,” St. Ignatius coach Mike Cashman said. “There are no regrets. To have the opportunity after winning a state championship, especially the first one in school history, to come back the next year and be able to compete is a special thing. I tip my
cap to the seniors, because it’s not an easy position to be in.”
Fenwick has eight seniors of its own, and they leave Fenwick with four trips to state and three championships.
“When this class of seniors came in, I thought it might be the first chance that we could win four in a row,” Wagner said. “Last year, we let our discipline get away from us and we became too individual. This year, they made it a point to not buy into that.”