Maryland 3A soccer: River Hill girls, Northern boys advance to state finals

In continuing its advance though the Maryland 3A girls’ soccer playoffs, defending state champion River Hill still hasn’t faced a team with an answer for Sheridan Street.

The Syracuse-bound midfielder with breakaway speed and a knack for finding and creating space scored two goals for the third consecutive game as the Hawks downed Damascus, 4-1, in the state semifinals at the Community College of Baltimore County-Essex on Saturday.

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“Sheridan is just one of these, once she gets going — and she’s in one of those momentums now — she’s getting great distribution from [forward] Alex [Hamer] and [midfielder] Jess [Hopkins] and she’s finishing them,” River Hill Coach Brian Song said. “She wants to make her mark.”

Hamer and Hopkins, who was assisted by Street, provided the other two goals for the Hawks (13-4-1).

“I just want to make a statement,” Street said. “I want to help my team win, so I’m doing everything I can to get us to the point where we’re winning. We hope to keep that going.”

Her efforts ended a groundbreaking season for the Hornets (17-1-0), who emerged from their region for the first time in a decade with a 77-7 goal differential.

HUNTINGTOWN 1, BEL AIR 0: What began as a slow game played mostly in the middle third opened up midway through the second half as the Hurricanes (16-1-1) advanced to their third 3A state title game in four years.

The Hurricanes (16-1-1) will face River Hill in a rematch of a 2012 state semifinal, a 3-0 Hawks win.

“Last year, I definitely lacked confidence going into the semis,” said Huntingtown Coach Jill Twetten. “. . . This year, I definitely knew we could do it, and I felt we deserved it.”

Huntingtown’s goal came on a free kick from junior back Paige Fallin, who placed a 36-yard strike right below the crossbar with 27 minutes to play.

“I took so many free kicks this year — it was crazy — from outside, way outside, and every single one almost went in or went in the box all that kind of stuff,” Fallin said. “When it meant the most, it finally went in. It was an incredible feeling.”

Northern boys advance

Things just weren’t going Northern’s way late in its Maryland 3A semifinal against C. Milton Wright. The Patriots’ star scorer, Ryan Phelps, went down to injury in the second half. After holding a lead for 70 minutes, Northern conceded a demoralizing game-tying goal with four minutes to go.

“I know my head was down,” senior forward Nathan Howard said.

But Northern weathered the storm through two scoreless overtimes, and Howard picked his head up, threw on a goalkeeper’s jersey and made the unorthodox switch to goalie for penalty kicks in the biggest game of his career.

Two stops and a penalty kill score of his own later, he and the Patriots (18-0) had won, outscoring C. Milton Wright 4-3 in penalty kicks to move on to the state final against Urbana. A win would give Calvert County its first state champion in 3A boys’ soccer.

Moving Howard to goal “was a last-minute plan we put together,” Northern Coach John Rossi said. Starter “Andrew Bruening is a phenomenal goalkeeper, but when it comes to PKs it’s about explosiveness and reactions. Nate has a knack for reacting to the ball and getting there quick.”

Ryan Knight scored the first goal and Sean Dryhurst scored the game-clinching penalty kick for the Patriots, who were also state finalists in 2010.

URBANA 1, RIVER HILL 0: For 79 minutes 26 seconds, No. 6 River Hill matched Urbana chance for chance, great save for great save. But with 34 seconds left, a freshman ended River Hill’s season. Urbana’s Trent Tarnstrom, who came off the bench when a yellow card forced a lineup change, found the ball in the box, spun to create space and drove home the game-winner.

The state semifinal berth marked the deepest playoff run in the careers of River Hill’s seniors, including UNC Wilmington-bound Jake Turney, who came off the bench despite a leg injury. The Hawks finished with a 16-2-0 record.

 
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