Sara Wilson has been itching to score. The O’Connell junior knew that if she wanted to showcase her talents she’d have to do so at outside back, so she spent her sophomore season with WCAC title finalists defending the goal instead of charging at it.

But the graduation of leading scorers Morgan Reuther and Kara DeGuisto has opened up the front for Wilson to debut her skills at attack. She notched a pair of goals to lead No. 7 O’Connellagainst No. 4. River Hillin a 2-1 win at McDonogh Saturday morning.

“I love getting forward,” Wilson said. “I’m really attack-minded when I get on the field, and all I want to do is score. I want to take on players and win.”

Her first opportunity came within the first five minutes of the season, when a sprint up the side of the field from sophomore midfielder Grace Boras drew the Hawks to the left. Wilson was left unguarded near the right corner of the box and she converted Boras’ pass in a swift shot to the far post to get the Knights (1-0) on the board.

Wilson’s next goal came off a penalty kick to the left side in the 16th minute of the second half. The Hawks (0-2) responded 13 minutes later to prevent the shutout.

“We were taking better shots,” said O’Connell Coach Alberto Starace. “But in the second half they put us under a lot of pressure, and that’s how they managed to score. We were tired but we just had to maintain possession.”

River Hill went 19-0 last season en route to the Maryland 3A state title, but the Hawks managed only five shots Saturday to O’Connell’s 10.

“They could have had a couple chances where we could have tied the game up,” Starace said of the eight-time state champions. “It was a fast-paced game, and I’m real pleased to see the way we played and that we can compete with that type of team.”

Junior Elena Williams controlled the defense at center back with help from fellow junior Katie Meckus, senior Jamie Dickman and freshman Ashley Wilson. The Knights are driven by a group of tight-knit, talented juniors. Eight starters are in the class of 2015, and their enthusiasm and chemistry on and off the field will be the key to success this season according to both Starace and Wilson.

“All day we’re excited to practice,” Wilson said. “We’re best friends off the field, so when we get to play, we know all of each others’ strengths and weaknesses.”

The ultimate goal, Wilson said, is a return trip to the WCAC final.

“We need to prove to everyone that this is not a one time thing and that we can get there every year.”

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