The River Hill girls’ soccer team made winning a state title look simple last year in a seemingly invincible 19-0 run.
That inevitability may have been lacking during this postseason — a tense blur of overtimes and penalty kicks — but the final destination remained the same, and after a 1-0 win over Huntingtown on Thursday, the Hawks were 3A state champions again.
The decisive score came from Sheridan Street, who was superhuman throughout the playoffs. The goal, Street’s seventh of the postseason (River Hill scored 11 in total), was typical of the senior’s effort.
She settled the ball on the defensive side of midfield, separated from Hurricanes defenders with a quick touch and quicker strides, and then rocketed up the sideline 70 yards before finishing with a shot to the near post.
The run took her past Hawks Coach Brian Song.
“I just remember getting it and running past Coach Song, and Coach Song saying ‘Beat her! Beat her!’ ” Street said. “So I took a touch, cut her off, and I’m running I see Alex [Hamer] making a great run. She pulled another defender away, so I cut it in and just took a hit. And luckily it went in.”
The Hawks defense did its part after that. Despite a makeshift backline built when three starting defenders went down to injuries in the course of the game, River Hill (14-4-1) never let up its pressure and withstood several chances from Huntingtown (16-2-1) in the game’s final minutes to clinch the title.
“As Coach Song always tells us, ‘we bend and we bend, but we never break,’” senior Hawk defender Callahan Allen said. “. . . throughout our whole playoff run, we all went out and said, ‘Not today. We’re not losing.’ ”
Things almost ended in the 3A East regional semifinal, when the Hawks fell behind Reservoir by two goals in the first half before Street scored two goals in 15 minutes to bring them back.
The Hawks almost didn’t get past the regional final, either. Centennial had a halftime lead and more chances the whole way. But Street scored to send the game to overtime, where she scored again to end it.
Several times throughout the playoffs, Street said she wanted to “make her mark” before graduating in December and heading to Syracuse to get a head start on her ACC soccer career.
“We knew every game in the playoffs would be a battle,” Street said. “We came into every game playing really hard. And coming back from losing scores and everything, I think the difficulty of our season helped us out in the playoffs.”