Calvert 3, Hammond 2
There are moments when Calvert girls' coach Doug Jones can see flashes of the ball-control, possession brand of soccer that he has been preaching to his players all season. But there are also times when Jones witnesses a team that rushes its play, is prone to turnovers and is generous with scoring opportunities for opponents.
On Friday evening, in the first round of the 2A South Region playoffs, the Cavaliers dominated a large amount of the play against visiting Hammond, twice taking leads but twice allowing the Golden Bears to come back and tie. Ultimately, Calvert needed penalty kicks to earn the 3-2 win, outscoring Hammond 4-2 in the shootout.
"You just have to keep your head in the game and play," said Jones about his team's resiliency. "They have to have composure and know the space and time that they have."
The victory marks a big steppingstone for the young Cavaliers (7-6-2), who were ousted in the first round of the playoffs a season ago. The win puts them into a second round matchup with county rival Patuxent on Tuesday. The Panthers defeated Calvert, 3-0, earlier in the season.
"We realized that we needed to come together, and after losing the first round last year, we wanted to come back strong," said sophomore Courtney Schroeder, one of many underclassmen that play significant minutes for the Cavaliers. "We're definitely not ready for the season to end. We have worked so hard and had a rough season."
A combination of inexperience (Calvert starts only one senior) and the lack of a bona fide goal scorer (the Cavaliers have netted only 15 goals) has made this a turbulent season for Calvert. The team finished with a 5-4-2 record in the SMAC, playing with poise and confidence in wins over quality teams such as Huntington and Northern but also going through patches that displayed its youth.
"We have had trouble finishing all year," Jones said. "When they shoot, they need to keep their hips square and make it count. That's what I've been telling them, and I pray they remember it when the time comes."
It appeared as though the Cavaliers would have few problems with the Golden Bears (1-10) early on as they continued to pressure the Hammond defenders into mistakes, finally jumping out to the 1-0 lead in the 13th minute when midfielder Brooke Santerre slid a pass to midfielder Christina Fuller, who put a low shot into the net.
However, a defensive breakdown allowed Golden Bears forward Karla States to break in unimpeded, and she poked the ball by Calvert goalie Michelle Buckmaster with only two minutes to play before halftime. Wasting no time, the Cavaliers grabbed the lead back on Schroeder's 25-yard free kick a minute later.
A failed clearance off a Hammond corner kick in the closing minutes of the game fell to the Golden Bears' Kelsie Potts, who roofed a shot to knot the score, 2-2. After two scoreless overtimes, Calvert finally decided the game on penalty kicks, getting goals from Santerre, Schroeder, Stephanie Serena and Ember Smootz while Buckmaster made a kick-out save on Hammond's Mia Fobbs and watched as Emily Harman's shot sailed over the crossbar, sealing the win.