Maryland 2A Girls' Soccer Championship

River Hill Wins Third Straight 2A Girls' Soccer Championship, Defeats Eastern Tech in Penalty Kicks

By Jeff Nelson
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, November 16, 2008

CATONSVILLE, Md., Nov. 15 -- Semret Seyoum left her River Hill teammates at midfield and jogged to the 12-yard spot for a penalty kick to give the fourth-ranked Hawks the Maryland 2A girls' soccer championship.

The senior knew where she was going -- low and left, same as always.

"I didn't want to change things up," said Seyoum, whose penalty kick experience did not include an attempt that could actually clinch a game, let alone a state title. "Just keep it the way we've been practicing."

Seyoum drilled it exactly where she aimed, barely allowing Eastern Tech's goalie to move before the ball settled into the back corner of the net.

With that, Seyoum's teammates engulfed her at UMBC Stadium on Saturday to celebrate a 3-3 (4-2 PKs) victory, River Hill's third consecutive championship and seventh overall.

This one, like last season's 2-1 double-overtime win against Eastern Tech, did not come easily.

In the first 30 minutes, River Hill's attack was disjointed, rarely producing anything resembling a scoring opportunity. At the same time, the Mavericks were in sync, scoring two goals.

The Hawks (16-1-1) were not used to trailing.

"When that happened, we were kind of scared," said junior Alex Vega. "But we just kept it together and knew we could pull through it. We just had to play as a unit because we weren't really playing together much. So once we started playing as a unit, the goals started coming."

With less than a minute left in the first half, Vega put home a rebound to cut the Hawks' deficit to one. Then, in the first minute of the second half, Seyoum tied the score.

Eastern Tech (14-2-1) regained the lead on Amber Womack's third goal of the game with 26 minutes remaining, but River Hill senior Amy Song's 40-yard throw-in with a minute left bounced in front of the near post and found Seyoum at the far post for the tying goal.

After 20 minutes of scoreless overtime, Eastern Tech missed its second and fourth penalty kicks wide, setting up Seyoum.

As she concentrated on her target, the Hawks felt they had the right person taking the shot.

"When you score two goals in regulation, you're on cloud nine," said senior Kathryn Rodgers, the team's leading scorer this season with 13 goals. "But I knew she had the confidence to go up there and finish it, and when she did, it was just the best feeling ever."

No. 4 River Hill 3 Eastern Tech 3 (River Hill wins on PKs, 4-2)

Playoff Perseverance: When allowing more than one goal in the regular season, River Hill was 0-1-1. When allowing more than one goal in the postseason, River Hill was 2-0. The Hawks beat Patuxent, 3-2, in the South region final.

Scoring Binge: Saturday's game tied the record for most goals in regulation in the 20-year history of MPSSAA girls' soccer championship games. Tuscarora won the 2004 4A title game, 5-1.

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