Hammond senior midfielder Natalie Trancucci looked up early in the second half and noticed her coach, Peter Di Marco, yelling at her. It's a good thing for Hammond that she listened.
Instead of being on the right side for Martha Bielefield's free kick, Trancucci moved toward the middle and scored her first goal of the season to help Hammond defeat 10th-ranked Mount Hebron, 2-0, in the Maryland 2A South Region final last night at Howard High in Ellicott City.
The Hammond girls advanced to Friday night's state semifinals against Loch Raven, a 4-2 winner over Hereford last night. Last fall Hammond won its third 1A state title.
"I looked up one second and [Di Marco] told me to move in, and it put me in the perfect position," Trancucci said. "I've been waiting for [a goal] all season long."
Trancucci trapped the free kick from the left side with her thigh, turned and placed a left-footed shot past Vikings goalkeeper Kim Rekart into the right corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead with 37 minutes 1 second remaining.
"I specifically asked her to be in the middle," Di Marco said. "She got the ball and finished with a beautiful shot."
Defensively, Hammond's four sophomore fullbacks, anchored by sweeper Ashley Pietryka, and sophomore goalkeeper Tara Zammichielli helped the Golden Bears post their second consecutive shutout of the playoffs and ninth this season.
"The entire back five has been the biggest surprise all year," Di Marco said. "They are playing like champions and they weren't even around last year."
BOYS SOCCER: In the 2A South Region final, senior sweeper Christian Chacon scored on a bending left-footed, 20-foot free kick and junior defender Stefan Martiyan added another goal as Mount Hebron defeated Centennial, 2-0, to win the title. It was the first regional championship in school history.
Mount Hebron will play Hereford at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Kenwood.