It didn’t matter that the sun was in her eyes, or that the goalkeeper in front of her was playing well Saturday. And it didn’t matter that nearly every spectator at Saturday’s 4A girls’ soccer state semifinal between Whitman and South River went dead silent. Senior Aliza Wolfe determined her approach to the penalty kick with 86 seconds remaining in the match. She was going to keep the ball on the ground. And she was going left, no matter what.
“This has to go in,” Wolfe told herself as she stepped to the ball.
And it did. On the brightest, most stomach-churning stage, the Whitman senior midfielder netted the game-winner to beat defending 4A champ South River, 1-0, at Richard Montgomery in Rockville.
The Vikings (15-1-1) advance to next week’s 4A state title match against Catonsville, 5-0 winners over Eleanor Roosevelt earlier Saturday.
South River (14-4) had its chances in the second half — including on Ashleigh Hill’s 30-yard strike that hit the crossbar in the 58th minute, and on a header from forward Kacie Longo that missed with just under three minutes remaining. About 90 seconds later, the Seahawks were undone with a penalty inside their own box, after Whitman’s Kristen Bissell was tripped up.
Wolfe entered the game as Whitman’s leading scorer with nine goals, and she was arguably the best player on the field Saturday.
“It really means everything to us. We seniors, we’ve wanted it for four years,” said Wolfe, just moments after her penalty kick dropped into the lower left corner of the net. “We all want the same goal. And how close we are, our heart is what is really carrying us through these last games.”
● CATONSVILLE 5, E. ROOSEVELT 0: In the other 4A girls’ semifinal, Allison Dingle scored two goals as Catonsville beat Eleanor Roosevelt.
The Raiders (14-3) hadn’t lost since Sept. 7 and entered Saturday having outscored opponents 83-8.
Catonsville (17-1), however, wore the Raiders down. Saturday’s win was a school-record 16th straight victory for the Comets, who broke through five minutes into the second half after Renee Gast converted a Jennifer Nonn cross near the front of the box. It was the 12th assist of the year for the senior Nonn, who also leads the team with 21 goals.
Dingle took over from there. She muscled her way into position on a corner kick, converting a header in the 52nd minute to make it 2-0. In the 66th minute, she was left unmarked 15 yards in front of the Raiders’ goal and drilled an uncontested goal into the lower left corner of the net.
Kayla Wood and Anna Higdon each scored goals in the final 11 minutes for the Comets, who have outscored opponents 13-2 in four games in the postseason.
With the win, the Falcons (16-0-2) advance to meet Blake in next weekend’s 4A state championship at UMBC. It will be the second consecutive appearance in the title match for Severna Park, which lost a year ago to Wootton.
The junior midfielder streaked down the left side while forward Daniel Kwon pushed the ball through Magruder’s defense up the middle, eventually dropping off the assist for Schaeffer in front of the Colonels’ net. It came just moments after Magruder (12-5-1) had one of its best chances of the night after forward Bryan Argueta split two Severna Park defenders near the top of the box — but he lost his footing on a tackle and the Colonels never got a clean look.
Saturday marked the third overtime win of the season for Severna Park, which hasn’t lost a match since last November’s state title game against the Patriots.
Parkdale (7-6-1), which entered the match as one of the hottest teams in the tournament, had a chance late after Celio Gracias cut the Bengals’ lead to 3-2 with 1:48 remaining in the match. But the Panthers couldn’t get one more look at the net on a night when opportunities were limited by a physical Blake midfield.
Blake (15-3) got on the board in the 28th minute, after Parkdale’s keeper lost control of a save on a direct kick in front of the net and Waters converted the loose ball into a 1-0 lead. Esong extended the lead to 2-0 in the middle of the second half off a 35-yard strike — and Escobar provided the most important goal of the night with just nine minutes to play, a 30-yard direct kick that found the net when the Parkdale keeper was screened from the bouncing ball.