A close loss to Bel Air in the Maryland 3A state semifinal on Wednesday night might have been hard to take for the Calvert girls soccer team, but to play in a high-stakes, high-intensity game was a good ending to a great season for the players and the coaches.
"That was just a great game," second-year Calvert Coach Doug Jones said after the Cavaliers fell, 2-1, to the Bobcats on a cold evening at Annapolis High. "I'm not disappointed; I'm happy. This is the best any Calvert team has ever done."
Senior Jen Corken scored the game's first goal in the 43rd minute to give Calvert the lead, but Bel Air scored in the 64th and 77th minutes to clinch a trip to the state final.
"There was a lot more adrenaline in this game," junior goalkeeper Heather Moe said. "It was very exciting. The intensity was up for the whole game."
Bel Air was scheduled to play Severna Park yesterday in a game that finished too late for this edition.
Calvert left Annapolis empty-handed but finished with its best-ever season. The Cavaliers won their first Southern Maryland Athletic Conference 3A South Region girls' soccer championships. After an eight-loss season in 2001, the Cavaliers lost only once this regular season, a season-opening defeat against Southern, and entered Wednesday's semifinal game with a 16-game win streak.
Early in the season the players caught on to what Jones had believed from the start -- that this Calvert team could be special.
"We were surprised at the start, but after a while we really started to believe we could have a really good season," Moe said.
Said Jones: "I thought this was a team that could do really well. Everyone chips in, and everyone goes all out. This is just icing. It's just great that we could get to here."
Calvert and Bel Air battled for a scoreless half in the semifinal before the goal by Corken, the Cavaliers' leading scorer who was marked well by Bel Air freshman defender Michelle Peck. Corken had outrun one defender for a loose ball and slipped through two more defenders for access to a point-blank shot.
The goal was Corken's 34th and final goal of the season.
"She's a second-team all-state player," Jones said. "She has an eye for the goal."
Calvert controlled the game for the next 15 minutes, keeping up the attack on Bel Air, which seemed startled by the deficit. Bel Air, which had won its region final over Franklin by coming back from a 2-0 lag, fought back to tie the game in the 64th minute.
With just four minutes remaining, junior Bethany Peck scored the winner off a Brittany Rothenbach throw-in by slipping a shot between the right post and Moe's right leg.
"It wasn't pretty," Bethany Peck said. "It just snuck in."