While the Madeira Snails didn’t get a movie-worthy, underdog ending, they came about as close as you can get in the ISL A final Wednesday at St. Andrew’s. After a magical run to the championship game, the Snails couldn’t outlast the Potomac School, and ran out of time to respond to a go-ahead goal from the Panthers’ Sheila Rietano with 13 seconds left in a 12-11 thriller.
Potomac dropped down from ISL AA after a bumpy 2013 season in which it went 4-14 and had no wins over ISL AA competition.
“The drop was tough,” Panthers Coach Claire Bordley said, “But I think it was a blessing in disguise. This season, getting some wins, it helped remind us we’re a good team and got our confidence going again.”
The move certainly sparked Potomac, which cruised through ISL A competition on its way to the title game while playing close games against AA foes such as Bullis and Episcopal. The Panthers’ only conference loss came in the season opener to Holton-Arms, a game from which they bounced back to take the ISL A regular season title.
Madeira’s path to the ISL A final wound through a much different course. According to laxpower.com’s records, the Snails haven’t had a winning season in more than a decade. In recent seasons, the measure of success was often how close Madeira got to knocking off top ISL A teams such as National Cathedral in early playoff rounds.
But this season, the Snails rose, slugged ISL A foes on their way to a winning record and knocked off National Cathedral in the teams’ regular-season matchup with a stunning comeback and eventual 9-8 victory. Senior goalie Ingrid Boyum turned in a typically solid year, as the Navy commit saved more than 150 shots to push her career total over 700. Brown signee Madison White, and juniors Bri Curran (Iona) and Brie Perkins (Coastal Carolina) pushed the Snails, who had 20-plus goals each from sisters Becca and Jaquelin Bishof and more than 30 from White.
So with depth and Division I talent all over the field, the Snails continued their momentum into the playoffs, knocking off National Cathedral again, 11-9, in the ISL A semifinals. That set up a collision with Potomac, led all season by sophomore Rietano (80 goals) and junior Clare Kehoe (50 goals).
Bordley said she felt as if “Madeira brought its whole school” to the field at St. Andrew’s to watch the Snails in their first ISL A final, and Madeira didn’t disappoint. Down 8-4 with 19:47 to play, losing out on draw controls (Potomac won 16 of 25) and struggling to earn possession, the Snails rallied. The Panthers’ Kehoe, who had four goals up to that point, went down with a knee injury, and Madeira seized on the pause and Potomac’s anxiety to climb back.
With just less than six minutes to go, the Snails’ Perkins tied the game at 9. Two and a half minutes later, Shelby Wildish gave the Snails a lead. The teams traded goals again, but Potomac senior Anna Laws tied it with 59 seconds left. That set the stage for Rietano, who buried a free-position goal with 13 seconds left to give Potomac the win.
“Give all the credit to Madeira, they came out with so much passion, so much energy,” Bordley said. “We just tried to tell ourselves, be calm, be steady, and weather these runs. And we came up with some big plays in the second half.”
Madeira finishes its 2014 season 9-6, while the Panthers wrap up their season with a 12-8 record.