At first glance, Broadneck freshman Hailey Small doesn’t come across as intimidating. With size to match her name, an unassuming on-field demeanor and a game face that breaks into a smile more often than not, Small doesn’t necessarily look the part of game-changer.
But in the Bruins’ 2-1 regional quarterfinal win over Leonardtown on Tuesday night, Small did it all. She set up chance after chance with her monstrous throw-ins and scored her team’s second goal to propel Broadneck (11-1-1) to the regional semifinals.
Whenever a ball rolled out of bounds and to the Bruins, Small charged to retrieve it from her spot on the back line, surveyed her teammates and crow-hopped into throw-ins seemingly impossible from someone of her stature. Those throws often traveled so far they effectively became corner kicks.
Then, with her team up 1-0, Small defied physics in a different manner. She somehow managed to get her head on an impeccably placed corner kick by Ellie McNulty despite being the shortest player in the scrum. That header found the back of the net for the eventual winning goal.
“I had to call my player off to get the ball, and I saw it go right past the goalie’s hands,” Small said. “I was so happy.”
Small nearly had a goal moments earlier when a bouncing ball in front of the net found her foot and — from some vantage points — appeared to cross the line. Ultimately it was ruled a non-goal, making Small’s tally a redemptive one for the Bruins.
“Hailey’s been a huge help to us this year. We’ve gotten so many goals off her throw-ins, she’s a huge asset to the team,” said senior forward McNulty, still out of breath from 80 minutes that rarely saw her stop her pursuit of the ball and chances for more than a few seconds at a time. “And she finishes the goals when we need them the most, she’s a great player.”
The Bruins dominated possession for much of the game, generating several chances and earning multiple corner kicks. The Raiders (11-4-1) managed to work their way through Broadneck’s back line for a goal when Kylie Egan got a foot on a ball in front of the net and brought Leonardtown back within one late.
But Small and Broadneck’s back line held against a frantic charge in the game’s final moments.
“She’s remarkably composed for a freshman. She’s great in the air, she’s got great skills, she’s the whole package,” said Bruins Coach John Camm of Small. “We’re happy to have her for three more years.”