Whitman junior Charlotte Rizzi had the ball on her right foot, with nothing between her and the C.M. Wright goalkeeper but 12 yards of cold air. She looked poised to score the first goal of Friday night's Maryland 4A girls' soccer championship at UMBC.
Rizzi had scored four times in the playoffs -- and had tallied a team-high 10 for the season -- but this shot just two minutes into the second half sailed well over the crossbar. It was Whitman's best scoring chance of the game, and afterward, C.M. Wright seized its fortunate break, scoring in the 58th minute on a breakaway and holding off the Vikings, 1-0.
The loss ended Whitman's eight-game winning streak and denied it a second consecutive 4A state championship. The Vikings finished 12-4; C.M. Wright, from Bel Air in Harford County, won its first girls' soccer state title in the 17-year history of the tournament.
"I guess I just got too nervous, too excited," Rizzi said of her missed shot. "I didn't relax and look."
Statistically, Whitman outplayed its opponent. The Vikings took seven shots to the Mustangs' three and had more than twice as many corner kicks (8 to 3).
But C.M. Wright (15-2) connected on its best scoring chance about midway through the second half. Junior Kelly Scheler's fine lead pass was corralled by sophomore midfielder Lyndsie Ludwig, who found herself behind the defense. Whitman's goalkeeper charged out of the net, but Ludwig's shot glanced off her body and into the goal.
"I felt like we dominated the game the whole time," first-year Whitman coach Greg Herbert said. "They got one break; that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. I thought we played a great game. For some reason, we didn't connect tonight."
After Ludwig's goal, Whitman seemed to sense the urgency of the situation. Julie McCabe's floating shot in the 69th minute got past goalkeeper Katie Kolb, but Kolb ran back and snared it before it crossed the goal line. In the 79th minute, senior Katherine Laco drilled a hard line drive, but right into Kolb's gut.
"We didn't play our own game, we played down to their level," Rizzi said. "I'm wishing that we could have done this over again."