QA’s edges NC on second-half goal by Napier
CENTREVILLE — They’ve have been here before, and knew the stakes.
Queen Anne’s County High’s girls’ soccer hosted North Caroline in the Class 2A East Section II final for a second straight year Friday Nov. 2, the sequel producing another thrilling, tension-filled contest.
And like last year, the Lions defeated the Bulldogs, this time by a 4-3 margin to advance to the 2A East Region championship.
Queen Anne’s sophomore Riley Napier scored two goals, including the game-winner midway through the second half to put the Lions up two goals.
“Riley has done very, very well for us this year,” said Queen Anne’s head coach Mike Kern, whose 12-2 team will host Fallston for a third straight year on Tuesday for the region title, 5 p.m. Tuesday. “She comes up big in big games. She did that today. That is why she is a great player.
“I was proud of our girls,” Kern added. “They kept fighting hard. It was a tough environment, but they played through it.”
North Caroline (10-5) never gave up while trailing for much of the match. The Bulldogs twice tied the game, and faced a two-goal deficit with 17 minutes to play.
Pearl Sutton scored off a Tanya Haro free kick to cut the lead in half with 11 minutes to play. North Caroline continued pushing and creating
chances. With two minutes left, Corinne Webb battled in the goal box and forced a Lion defender to kick the ball out to play for a Bulldog corner kick. Haro delivered a high sailing ball from the right corner. Sutton leaped through the crowded box and sent a header into the back of the net for what appeared to be the tying goal.
But officials ruled Haro’s corner crossed the goal line, and a ball cannot be played if it travels out of play. The call nullified the would-be tying score. Queen Anne’s gained possession and ran out the remaining seconds.
“Tanya gave us a great chance to tie the game,” North Caroline head coach Joe Bildstein said. “To win games like this, you have to play on the edge because you are playing great teams. We wanted that goal of course. Pearl puts a header in the net but it is not going to count. The girls know they had a winning performance today.
“I thought last year we had it against Queen Anne’s, but just missed,” Bildstein continued. “I thought we had it this year. Yes, it hurts. But the girls are resilient. They have faced so much adversity, but always come out fighting.
“God bless our six seniors,” he said. “They built a great program. They are great leaders. They are great players. I wanted this for them.”
From the start, North Caroline controlled tempo by penetrating deep into Lion territory. But Queen Anne’s goalkeeper Breanna Athey denied several scoring chances.
“We play a very aggressive high line,” Kern said. “Brea does a great job coming out. She is a great athlete. She played a great game.”
Queen Anne’s took a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute when Napier streaked down right wing and delivered a rocket into the top corner of the net.
Haro answered almost immediately, receiving the kickoff and sending a shot down field that hopped past Athey and into the net for a 1-1 tie.
Queen Anne’s regained the lead in the 32nd minute when Shyanne Seymour dished to Abby Blanchard, who tucked a shot inside left post for a 2-1 lead.
Bildstein preached a positive halftime message, telling his team to continue playing the way it played in the first half, and good things would happen.
The Bulldogs nearly tied the score in the 43rd minute when Webb sailed a cross from right wing to the foot of Alexa Lawton along the left corner of the goal box. Athey challenged and watched as the shot went wide.
A minute later, Lawton led a rush down left wing and dished to a streaking Hailey Chester, who scored to even the game at 2-2.
“We are a family,” Bildstein said. “It doesn’t matter what the scoreboard says to me, these girls are winners. They are winners in everything, from being kids with great character to being great soccer players. I just want them to know they are family for life coming through this program.
“To come from what we did in the Kent Island game to this is magical,” Bildstein said, referring to Wednesday night’s shootout victor y over the top-seeded Buccaneers. “It has been a great season. These girls had a magical year. I’m so proud of them.”
The Lions got the lead back in the 54th minute. Napier led a rush down right wing, and fired a shot off the post. The ball ricocheted directly to freshman Ryleigh Jordan, who knocked in the go-ahead goal for a 3-2 Lions lead.
“Ryleigh was in the right place at the right time,” Kern said. “She put it home. I’m proud of her coming big like that. There is a lot of pressure for a freshman but she handles it well. She is a tough kid. She works hard.”
Napier added her second goal four minutes later to put Queen Anne’s up 4-2. The Lions were able to withstand the Bulldogs’ final push.
“North Caroline came in ready to play us, and played us well,” Kern said. “Congratulation to them on a great year. Joe is a good coach, and has a good coaching staff. They gave us everything they could.”
North Caroline’s Tanya Haro scored a goal against Queen Anne’s Friday, Nov. 2, to the Class 2A East Section II final.
North Caroline’s Alexa Lawton gains possession against Queen Anne’s Friday, Nov. 2, to the Class 2A East Section II final.
North Caroline’s Kylie Phillips drives the ball down the field against Queen Anne’s Friday, Nov. 2, to the Class 2A East Section II final.
North Caroline’s Rebecca Gibbons gains possession against Queen Anne’s Friday, Nov. 2, to the Class 2A East Section II final.