South River girls’ soccer wins Maryland 4A state title thanks to work on penalty kicks
By Eric Detweiler,
CATONSVILLE – South River girls’ soccer Coach John Sis does not generally add penalty kicks to his team’s practices late in the season. The seventh-year coach worries the players start to feel comfortable settling for a shootout in a close game.
Yet he did sneak in one round of penalties this week to prepare for Friday’s Maryland 4A final against Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
And as the game went to a shootout, South River was ready: It won the shootout, 4-2, by making four of five penalty kicks.
The teams played to a 1-1 tie in regulation and two 10-minute overtimes.
And the Seahawks survived the shootout to win their first state title since 1997 while ending the Barons’ unprecedented run of four straight state crowns.
“I was scared that if I didn’t win it, the seniors were going to cry and we were going to lose,” said sophomore Alyssa Hill after converting the game-ending kick. “I just had that mentality that if I didn’t score this it was going to be over.”
Trailing 1-0 late after a goal by B-CC freshman Paula Germino-Watnick, South River (18-2) needed a score from junior Kacie Longo in the 73rd minute to get to extra time. The forward took advantage of a misplay in the back to poke in a loose ball.
Neither team could muster much offense in the 20 minutes of overtime, and when Sis walked out to meet his team before the shootout, the players were already setting their lineup.
Sis quickly scrapped the order he had in mind and allowed them the freedom to do it their way.
“We have no problems with our seniors making decisions for the team,” Sis said. “This is their year. This their team.”
Junior Madison Koenig, senior Rebekah Petty and senior Shelby Olender made their kicks, while freshman goalkeeper Emily Proctor stopped a third-round shot and watched the Barons’ fourth attempt slide wide.
That set the stage for Hill to close out the victory. The midfielder calmly slotted her kick into the left corner of the net, just outside of the reach of the diving goalkeeper.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase (13-4) beat Severna Park in penalty kicks last fall to win its fourth straight state title.
“You can’t expect you’re going to come every year and accomplish all your goals,” B-CC Coach Rob Kurtz said. “We’ve been lucky enough to do it a bunch of times, but we still had a great season.”