Senior sweeper Larissa Conte and the rest of the Sidwell Friends defense could hold back Potomac School's ambitious, fluid attack for only so long. For the first 50 minutes of yesterday's Independent School League girls soccer final at Madeira, the stalwart Quakers held Potomac School at bay, absorbing everything the defending champions kicked, dribbled and threw their way.
But the unbeaten Panthers (15-0-2) would not be denied, and when sophomore forward Jenna Linden collected a bouncing pass from senior midfielder Emily Duncan and lifted it past goalkeeper Alex Oster, Potomac School broke the spell and was on its way to a 3-1 victory and its second consecutive ISL title.
"In our halftime talk, I told them, 'Close your eyes, focus and relax, and it will go in,' " Potomac School Coach Bobby Johnston said. "They kept their composure."
Sidwell (9-2-3) took an early lead when sophomore forward Jess Holsey hammered the ball into the roof of the net from close range. It was the only shot on goal the Quakers would manage, as Duncan, who had two assists, and senior midfielder Katherine Twomey dictated the pace for the Panthers.
All that was left for Potomac to do was solve Conte, who was as adept at clearing long, searching passes as she was tackling the ball from the gifted Linden.
"She was just phenomenal," Sidwell Coach Tito Baca said of Conte. "She commands everyone's respect because of her effort."
Potomac switched the ball from sideline to sideline to counter Conte's dominance in the middle, and it paid off in the 57th minute when senior forward Fontaine Marcoux tapped in senior midfielder Courtney Fischer's pass from the right wing. Marcoux scored again with five minutes remaining, after Conte had left the game with an injured shin.
"I just think we needed to calm down," Duncan said. "The second half was about taking a deep breath, figuring it out and playing our game."