Ri­vals go to the last kick

Pa­tri­ots slip past Hur­ri­canes in PKs, ad­vance to 3A South fi­nal

The Calvert Recorder - - Sports - By ANDY STATES as­tates@somd­news.com

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.

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