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Maryland 3A girls’ soccer final: Victoria Bellucci helps Huntingtown triumph, 1-0, over Urbana one year after falling short

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CATONSVILLE, Md. — As the final horn blasted, Huntingtown senior Taylor Morton grabbed fellow defender Kylie Thurber with one arm and pushed the other into the sky. After spending what seemed like all 80 minutes of Thursday’s Maryland 3A girls’ soccer final trying to clear the ball away from her goal, Morton — the team’s last line of defense at center back — could finally take a deep breath and relax.

Sophomore Victoria Bellucci scored in the 17th minute, and Huntingtown’s senior-laden defense made it stand up in a 1-0 win over No. 9 Urbana at UMBC. A year after falling in the state final, the Hurricanes celebrated their first-ever state title.

“Last year when we lost it really hurt us,” Morton said, “It was the worst feeling ever. Now we won it, and it’s the best feeling ever.”

Although Huntingtown (18-1) spent much of the night playing defense in its own half, it took advantage of one of its first counterattacks to get on the board early.

Bellucci received a pass in stride from senior Michaela Antzoulatos and ripped a shot from just inside the 18-yard box with a defender on her hip and another close behind. One of the defenders got a toe on the attempt, but it still found the back of the net.

Bellucci carried the team, offensively, through the tournament with seven goals in five games. She scored the only goal in Saturday’s semfinal win over Reservoir on a similar play.

“I knew that we weren’t going to have tons of opportunities like we did in our earlier games,” Bellucci said, “so I just capitalized on that great ball that she fed me and tried to place it in the corner nice and easy.”

Urbana (14-4-2) pressed early and often but couldn’t beat a defense that Hawks Coach Chuck Nichols called “like The Great Wall of China.” Junior Jenny Marshall — Urbana’s leading scorer — worked hard to get several good opportunities around the net and just missed wide on several long-range free kicks.

On one late sequence, Marshall got around Morton near the goal before senior Taylor Jordan cleared the ball away. Marshall chased it down and sent a cross toward goal, but Morton recovered to volley it out of the box and protect the lead.

Huntingtown senior goalie Shelby Taylor made six saves on Thursday to earn her 16th shutout of the season. The Hurricanes did not allow a goal during its playoff run and ceded just five all season.

“Once you lose (the final), you just want to get back here right away,” Huntingtown Coach Jill Twetten said. “It takes a long time to get back, so hats off to my team. It’s not easy to get here, and it’s nice to go home with a championship this time.”

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