One way or the other, Zoe Mesirow figured she’d remember the shot for the rest of her life. With a well-placed penalty kick into the lower right corner of the net last November, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase defender won the shootout against Severna Park that gave the Barons their fourth straight girls’ soccer title.
“Mentally, I was just like trying to be really composed and not freak out,” Mesirow, now a senior, said before a practice this week. “I was nervous and excited and everything, but I just really wanted us to win.”
Indeed, Bethesda-Chevy Chase has specialized in performance under pressure during its unprecedented run, finding ways to win when it matters most. The Barons (9-3) head into the playoffs this time around as the top seed in the Maryland 4A West region, looking for a fifth straight state crown with a group that has plenty of playoff history.
In his 11th season, Coach Rob Kurtz brought back nine players with starting experience, including junior Eliza Doll, who leads the team in points for the second straight year. The team relies on five seniors, four of whom have played on the varsity squad all four years, to set the example for nine underclassmen.
Kurtz said the group is probably more technically advanced and mentally strong than last year’s squad, if not quite as cohesive. The Barons had won eight straight games before losing at Whitman, 2-1, and at Sherwood, 1-0, to close the regular season.
“I actually think we can get better,” said Kurtz, who has won six titles in all at the school. “That’s a little weird to say in October, but I think we’ll be better a week from now, no doubt.”
In a similar position entering the postseason a year ago, Bethesda-Chevy Chase followed with a gritty run to the title. That team lost three games and tied two more in the regular season, and Kurtz acknowledged afterward it was outplayed in three of its five playoff wins.
The Barons kept the final scoreless for 100 minutes and then won the shootout with goalie Angela White, now a senior, stopping a Severna Park attempt right before Mesirow’s game-winner. They have not closed the season with a loss since falling to Urbana in penalty kicks in the 2007 Maryland 3A West final.
“Just knowing what it feels like to be there, it kind of helps to give you something to work toward,” Mesirow said. “Obviously, everyone wants to win a state championship, but having experienced those actual emotions doing it, just makes you want it even more.”
Reuther — a Virginia commit — made sure the Knights (11-1-2, 7-1 WCAC) led almost throughout, setting up sophomore Stephanie Page’s score three minutes into the game. The forward added an insurance tally off a pass from senior Kara DeGuisto in the 60th minute in the team’s fifth straight win.
The Tartans (11-1-1, 6-1-1) played top-ranked Good Counsel to a scoreless tie last week and had allowed just six goals in 12 games coming in. They nearly tied the game late in the first half when freshman Jade Ruiters ripped a 35-yard blast toward the top corner of the net, but O’Connell senior goalie Ashley Cox managed to tip the shot off the cross bar.
“We’re on a roll right now,” said Reuther, who leads the team with 27 goals. “I think if we keep it up and keep getting better, there’s nothing to stop us.”
Whitman breaks into the rankings after beating Bethesda-Chevy Chase and National Cathedral in its final week of the regular season. Sophomore Maddie Parker scored her first goal of the season to provide the offense in Monday’s 1-0 win over the Eagles. South River scored three first-half goals to beat Arundel, 3-0, in Tuesday’s Anne Arundel County title game, avenging an earlier loss to the Wildcats.
(Records through Tuesday)
1. Good Counsel (12-1-2) Last week: 1
2. O’Connell (11-1-2) LW: 3
3. Holy Cross (11-1-1) LW: 2
4. River Hill (14-0) LW: 4
5. Spalding (12-3-3) LW: 5
6. Sidwell Friends (12-2) LW: 6
7. South River (13-2) LW: 10
8. Arundel (14-1) LW: 8
9. Whitman (10-2) LW: NR
10. National Cathedral (9-2-2) LW: 7