Sea­son ends for La Plata girls soc­cer

Pope’s OT goal sends Calvert to 2A South fi­nal

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­ Twit­ter: @SOMDhab­s­fan

Calvert and La Plata added an­other chap­ter to the two teams’ de­vel­op­ing girls soc­cer ri­valry fol­low­ing the Cava­liers’ 2-1 over­time win over the vis­it­ing War­riors in the Class 2A South Sec­tion I fi­nal on Fri­day night.

Calvert (10-4 over­all), the top seed in Sec­tion I, hosted South­ern of Anne Arun­del County in the re­gional cham­pi­onship game on Tues­day night. The win­ner will face the win­ner of the West bracket’s Cen­tury-Da­m­as­cus game in the state semi­fi­nals, which are sched­uled for Nov. 11-12 at River Hill High School in Howard County.

“I’m re­ally happy,” said Calvert fresh­man Claire Wil­liams, who scored the game-ty­ing goal in the 68th minute. “We needed to pick it up and push through. We were do­ing well, we just needed to fin­ish our chances.”

Calvert first-year head coach John Baker said he was “A bit re­lieved, [there’s] a lot of adrena- line. My girls I couldn’t be hap­pier with them.”

The game was an­other chap­ter in a grow­ing ri­valry be­tween the two teams, though Calvert has won the past three meet­ings be­tween the two, all in ex­tra time. The Cava­liers claimed a 3-2 dou­ble over­time win on Sept. 6 and elim­i­nated the War­riors in penalty kicks in last year’s play­offs.

“La Plata’s a great team and I think we’re de­vel- op­ing quite a nice ri­valry with them,” Baker said. “They re­ally play tough soc­cer with us; it’s a good matchup.”

And it was Anita Pope who gave Calvert an­other win in the se­ries. Calle Garneau raced down the left side and sent a loop­ing shot on goal that glanced off the fin­gers of La Plata goal­keeper Macken­zie Hig­don. Pope raced in from the right side and jammed the ball home in the short side.

“I just saw the ball and kept go­ing [be­cause] I wanted to fin­ish my run,” Pope said. “I ex­pected it to go in at first or she’d save it, but when I saw her de­flect it I just had to fin­ish it. I was also sur­prised it wasn’t off­sides.”

“The ball came in quick and she made the ini­tial save and couldn’t hang onto it,” La Plata head coach Kevin Barry said. “As a keeper, op­por­tuni- ties hap­pen, but Macken- zie made some solid saves [through­out the game]. She re­ally stood tall, but you get some un­for­tu­nate bounces some­times, and that was one of those.”

La Plata se­nior mid­fielder Taryn Ging said, “I think we played a great game. We came out here con­fi­dent, we knew what we wanted to ac­com­plish, but it was just an un­lucky goal. I think this was one of the best games we’ve ever played.”

La Plata (8-7), the sec- tion’s sec­ond seed, opened the scor­ing when Mck- enna Simp­son’s long free kick found the back of the net in the 31st minute.

Calvert swarmed the La Plata zone with mul­ti­ple scor­ing chances be­fore get­ting the ty­ing goal.

“We changed our for­ma­tion and be­cause of that we sac­ri­ficed a lit­tle of our of­fen­sive at­tack, but we knew they were a ta­lented team,” Barry said. “They have proven that they can put the ball in the goal, so we wanted to pre­pare for it, so we took one of our lead­ing goalscor­ers and put her in a de­fen­sive po­si­tion. They may have been in our zone, but we felt re­ally good about lim­it­ing what they were able to do, and we frus­trated them at times.”

Wil­liams tied the score when she out­mus­cled a de- fen­der for the ball and then sent a long, arc­ing shot into the top left corner.

“Hon­estly I didn’t know if it was go­ing to go in or not,” Wil­liams said.

The loss was the third over the past four games for La Plata fol­low­ing a six-game win­ning streak dur­ing which it outscored the op­po­si­tion 32-4.

“We had some re­ally pos­i­tive mo­ments and as a team com­ing into play- offs we strug­gled a lit­tle bit, but we showed out here tonight what our po­ten­tial is and we can play with any­body,” Barry said. “Even though our record wasn’t like other teams in SMAC I was con­fi­dent ev­ery time we stepped on the field that we could hang and play with any­body, re­gard­less of the sit­u­a­tion. I’m proud of what this team was able to ac­com­plish this year.”

“I wasn’t even ex­pect- ing us to be as great as we were,” said La Plata se­nior So­phie Blouin, who will ma­jor in sports man­age­ment in col­lege. “I’m so happy we were a strong team to­geth- er. This is my fa­vorite team I’ve ever been on.”

The Cava­liers have won their last two games and six of their last eight, in­clud­ing three by shutout.

“Go­ing down a goal we talked at half­time and switched our for­ma­tion so we could keep the ball a lit­tle more and it re­ally gave us an ad­van­tage,” Baker said. “The girls were asked to play dif- fer­ent po­si­tions and they took ad­van­tage of it. It’s ex­cit­ing mov­ing for­ward and watch­ing th­ese kids grow all sea­son.”

The War­riors jumped out to a 2-0 first-half lead and then hung on to dou­ble up the vis­it­ing Cougars in the Class 2A South Sec­tional I fi­nal on Fri­day.

The top-seeded War­riors faced South­ern on Mon­day and claimed the re­gion ti­tle with a 1-0 vic­tory.

La Plata, which had drubbed the Cougars 7-0 on Sept. 23, has won two straight and 11 of their past 12 games.

Issac Ekobo scored both goals for the Cougars, and had scored eight goals over the past three games.

The Cougars (8-9) came into the game on a seven-game win streak.

Stone head coach Tom Parker said the match was a “very in­tense game with a lot of qual­ity soc­cer played be­tween two de­ter­mined teams” and that it re­minded him of the Thomas Stone-La Plata ri­valry games of the past.”

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