BOWIE – When Bowie High School sophomore Allyson Hufton scored her team’s first goal against Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School, she could not contain her excitement. After an easy finish from right in front of the net, Hufton jumped up and down, opening her arms to welcome in her teammates.
“She was a little bit nervous, so seeing her dig out the goal was really a boost for the team morale,” senior captain Dorian Coehins said after the game.
That boost provided an early burst of energy in a game where the Bulldogs (13-1) never took their foot off the gas dominating the Lady Pumas (7-5) in a 21-1 victory in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) 4A South Section II semifinals. Bowie scored the game’s first 20 goals and put the game in a running clock with over four minutes remaining in the first half.
“I think we had a really good attitude going into this game,” Coehins said. “We were determined, and we were capable of pulling out a win today, and that really helped keep us loose.”
But earlier that afternoon, it looked like Bowie would not get a chance to put on a dominant performance. The game was initially supposed to start at 4 p.m., but with lightning in the area, both teams had to clear the field, spending about 45 minutes in trailers before returning to the grounds for a quick warmup. The Bulldogs have had multiple games delayed this year, and this one wasn’t any different from the others. Coehins said the team bantered back and forth and cracked jokes to keep the mood light before listening to music to get focused for the game.
After a quick warm up, it appeared not even a rain delay would stop Bowie’s offense. After Hufton scored 23 seconds into the game, sophomore Julia Pierson added one a minute later and another with 19:01 remaining in the first half, forcing the Lady Pumas to call a timeout.
However, that failed to stop the bleeding, as the Bulldogs’ Emeline LeToreau won the ensuing draw control and found Amadi Higgins right in front of the net from point-blank range for the first of her game-high six goals. Bowie led 11-0 at the half, with seven players notching goals in the opening period.
“We had scoring from a lot of different people,” Bulldogs head coach Kevin Bayly said. “We don’t have a lot of kids on the team, but I can interchange them a lot.”
Bayly said his team worked a lot on ball movement over the past week, and it showed during the game. Bowie continued to move without the ball on offense and was always looking for cutters and easy shots. Pierson quarterbacked the offense with ease in the first half, scoring a hat trick in the early minutes before looking to get her teammates involved and finished with a game-high four assists.
“Everyone always moving always helps,” Pierson said. “We were catching all the cutters (and) they were moving all the time.”
While the Bulldogs offense was humming, their defense was doing the same on the opposite end of the field. Wise struggled on the draw control early before making a second-half adjustment but never got used to Bowie’s pressure in the midfield. With Colby Cooper, the Lady Pumas’ best player on the sidelines with an injury, the team struggled to get into a rhythm on offense. Any time they did get a shot off, they had a hard time getting it past Bulldogs goalie Nakya Pack.
“I can rave about (Pack) forever because she’s so good,” Coehins said. “She’s really our last line of defense because she plays with so much composure. “We’ve played in a lot of games where if we didn’t have her, it would be a totally different game.”
For Wise coach Jeannine Cummings, the loss brought an up-and-down season to an end. Cummings previously coached the boys’ lacrosse team before taking over the girls team last season, leading the Lady Pumas to an eight-win improvement. She said she lost many seniors from that team, and many players on this year’s team were playing lacrosse for the first time.
“To bring them from where they were, from where they are, I’m proud of them,” Cummings said. “They’ve grown as a team, and they understand it does take teamwork and understand they have to work hard.”
Bowie’s season continues May 13, when it travels to defending regional champion and undefeated Eleanor Roosevelt for the sectional final. The Lady Raiders handed the Bulldogs their only loss of the season on March 27, but Bayly knows what his team has to do to reverse the result this time around.
“Our defense has to stay where it is,” he said. “Ground balls, 50-50s (balls) and draw controls, if we control those I don’t see why we can’t beat them.”