Rivals go to the last kick
Patriots slip past Hurricanes in PKs, advance to 3A South final
Regarding penalty kicks, Northern girls soccer player Sarah Eliff’s perspective is simple.
“All it pretty much is is getting over your fear and just hitting it,” she said in the moments following the Patriots’ penalty-kick win at Huntingtown on Thursday night. But a few minutes prior, when her turn came to attempt a penalty kick, there was plenty of pressure to go with that fear.
Playing for a spot in the Class 3A South Region championship game, the county rivals had already battled through regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods score- less.
With the game then to be decided in penalty kicks, the teams were even 2-2 when Northern goalkeeper Kaitlyn Parks made a save on Huntingtown’s fifth and final kick. That left Eliff, Northern’s fifth kicker, with the opportunity to win the game.
She made good on the opportunity, blasting her shot into the net to
lift the Patriots to a 3-2 win in penalty kicks over the Hurricanes in the 3A South Section II final.
Northern advanced to play for the regional championship against Poly of Baltimore on Tuesday. Northern last won the region in 2016, while either Northern or Huntingtown has been the 3A South champ every year since 2005.
“It’s very stressful because it can either win or lose the game,” Eliff said of the task she had faced. “I just went up there and had confidence in myself just to try to hit it in for my team so we can go on to states.”
Northern (13-1 overall) had dominated the action through the first half and the early stages of the second half. But Hunting-
town (14-1) cranked up its intensity nearing the midpoint of the second half to generate some scoring opportunities of its own.
But neither team was able to find a way to get one into the net through the first 80 minutes, while the two subsequent overtime
periods yielded nothing in the way of goals, either.
With the game having advanced to penalty kicks, Huntingtown, shooting first, missed its first attempt, while Northern’s Taylor Tolson then converted her chance to give the Patriots the edge. Huntingtown’s Shawna Ganley then scored, while Northern’s next shot sailed wide right to leave the teams tied at 1 through two rounds.
Both goalkeepers delivered saves in the third round, while Huntingtown’s Mia Issac and Northern’s Rachel Deresky each scored in the fourth round to send the teams to their final kickers tied at 2. Parks then came through with a save to leave Eliff with the opportunity to seal the win on her foot.
“I knew the score was tied and I knew that I had to make a save,” Parks said of her mindset head-
ing into the fifth round of penalty kicks. “I had confidence in [Eliff]. It’s surreal. Each PK was a different focus. I focused on the shooter, the angle, them running up and just made the save.”
The game, itself, was essentially what Parks expected between the rivals who have been amongst the state’s best programs in recent years. Huntingtown won a 1-0 decision in this year’s regular season meeting, while the Hurricanes won last year’s section final over Northern in another game that required penalty kicks.
“It’s Huntingtown, it’s always a rivalry,” Parks said. “I was just trying to stay composed and do my job, which is to save a goal which I ended up doing. I was just trying to get the job done and it worked out.”
Having finished as the 3A state runner-up a year ago — a loss to Linganore
of Frederick County in penalty kicks, as well — the Hurricanes had high hopes of returning to the state final to hopefully attain a different outcome. It wasn’t to be.
“We didn’t play well,” Huntingtown head coach Charlie Raphael said. “[Northern] fought hard the whole time and we didn’t play well.”
Two years ago, it was Northern advancing to the state final where it fell 1-0 to Urbana of Frederick County. Now, the Patriots get their chance to try to finish the season with a win.
“It’s been four years that I’ve been on varsity,” said Parks, one of the team’s seniors. “We got very, very close my sophomore year. The fact that we ended up coming just short in the state final, I’ve got like a grudge. I want to go back to states and I want to finish with a ring.”
The celebration starts after Northern clinched its win in penalty kicks at Huntingtown in the 3A South Region Section II final on Thursday night. After playing through regulation and two overtime periods without a goal, the visiting Patriots won 3-2 in penalty kicks.
Northern’s Sarah Eliff and Rachel Deresky hug as the celebration starts following Eliff’s game-clinching goal in penalty kicks to close out the Patriots’ playoff win at Huntingtown in the 3A South Region Section II final on Thursday night.