One goal does it for La Plata girls soccer
DePriest-Kessler scores to beat North Point
Throughout the season, the La Plata High School girls soccer team has prided itself on being able to score goals on set pieces.
Thursday evening at North Point, the Warriors’ lone tally came on such a play as they upended the Eagles 1-0 in a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Potomac Division clash.
La Plata (7-2, 3-0 SMAC Potomac) has won seven straight games since opening the schedule with losses to Wilde Lake of Howard County and SMAC foe Calvert. Among the seven straight wins include marquee victories over Leonardtown, McDonough and North Point (3-4-1, 1-1).
The Warriors lone tally in Thursday night’s win came in the second half on a free kick by senior Julia Simpson that senior Mackenzie DePriest-Kessler redirected into the net past North Point goalkeeper Kiana Webb.
“We work on that play a lot in practice and we always call them Pink Flamingo 1 or Pink Flamingo 2 or whatever number we’re on,” DePriest-Kessler said. “That was Pink Flamingo 14 and that was the first time we’ve scored on it. Julia sent in a great free kick and it just sailed deep enough that I could get a foot on it.”
Simpson also recalls the nickname given the play in La Plata practices and following a scoreless first half against North Point she was hoping to get one more chance to connect with her senior teammate.
“It just came to me one day in practice and that’s what we’ve been calling it ever since,” Simpson said. “When I hit it I saw Mackenzie break behind their last defender and she was able to one-touch it past their goalie. That was such an exciting moment. For us to be able to come in here and beat them on their turf really means a lot. We’re good, but we know we can go far this season.”
La Plata 11th-year head coach Kevin Barry could not recall his team beating North Point during his tenure with the program — the first and only time prior to Thursday was Oct. 2, 2007, a 4-1 Warriors win — but quickly commended his players for their effort and ability to upend three quality programs in North Point, McDonough and Leonardtown since opening the schedule with a pair of setbacks.
“Maybe it was the full moon or the planets and stars aligning, but we were finally able to win one here,” Barry said. La Plata next is scheduled to play at home versus Lackey at 6 p.m. Tuesday followed by a trip to Westlake for a 6 p.m. Thursday contest. “The girls played with so much energy. We had some good scoring chances in the first half and then Julia and Mackenzie came through on that set piece. We work a lot in practice on those plays and I was glad one of them paid off.”
North Point head coach Kiante Webb watched his daughter, Kiana, enjoy a stellar game in goal, finishing with 11 saves, and saw his moderately depleted roster — the Eagles are minus six players due to injury — battle against a senior-laden La Plata squad.
“For us to be able to play that well against them says a lot about my girls,” Webb said. “We just lost a tough, double-overtime game against Huntingtown on Tuesday and we’re down six players. But everyone played hard the whole game and we probably just ran out of gas there at the end. But I was proud of them.”
North Point freshman Jordan Felton received a lot of attention from the La Plata defense throughout the contest and deservedly so. The Eagles newcomer displayed precocious dribbling and passing skills and one of her shots caromed off the left post and ended up being cradled by Warriors senior goalkeeper Mackenzie Higdon.
“We had some good scoring chances and so did they,” Felton said. “Both goalies played very well. They kept the game close. I thought we had a few good chances in the first half, but we could not convert. It was a well-played game on both sides. We just have to put it behind us and get ready for Thomas Stone and McDonough.”
North Point senior forward Karsyn Dodson took most of the Eagles’ free kicks and throw-ins and made numerous stellar passes to Felton and her teammates that eventually were cradled by Higdon (8 saves).
The Eagles were scheduled to be at Thomas Stone on Tuesday and next to host St. Charles at 6 p.m. Thursday.
“Both teams played really well,” Dodson said. “We knew it was going to be a really tough game. Both goalies made a lot of tough saves. We still have some tough games left against county teams that we have to focus on. We played well, but they were finally able to get one goal against us.”