CATONSVILLE — Presented with one free kick after another by her hardworking offense in the second half of Thursday’s Maryland 3A girls’ soccer final against C.M. Wright, River Hill senior Haily Emrick took advantage, turning most of them into dangerous scoring opportunities.
Throughout the game, Emrick set up the Hawks’ best looks at the goal with her consistent strikes, and in overtime, that persistence finally paid dividends.
Emrick’s 40-yard free kick squirted loose in front of the net and junior Callie Allen poked it in for the game-winning goal with 3 minutes 47 seconds left in the first overtime. River Hill’s 1-0 victory at UMBC finished off the Hawks’ perfect season with their eighth state title and fourth in eight seasons under Coach Brian Song.
“Honestly, I just place the ball where I think the people are going to get a head on it,” Emrick said. “I didn’t think we were going to score on [a free kick.] . . . After I kicked that one, I saw Callie coming, and I knew that was going to be it.”
The Mustangs (17-2-1) had allowed just three goals on the season, but River Hill (19-0) kept the pressure on Thursday night behind high-scoring forwards Sheridan Street and Alex Hamer. The pair, which combined for 31 goals and 23 assists this season, drew many of the fouls that earned Emrick’s repeated free kick chances.
Allen had an open look in front of the net off a similar ball from Emrick in the 71st minute, but she blasted a shot right at C.M. Wright goalkeeper Stacy Venanzi.
In overtime, senior Michaela Hennessy was taken down in River Hill’s offensive end, and this time the Hawks converted.
After scoring her fourth goal of the season, Allen started running and stopped only when her teammates caught up, burying her in a celebratory pile near the right sideline.
“I just thought to myself, ‘This is all I’ve ever wanted,’” Allen said of game-ending play. “I just went in there with all my heart and prayed it would go in the goal.”
The Hawks ran through county play unbeaten last season only to lose their playoff opener to Atholton, 3-2. The team responded by outscoring its opponents, 79-6 this fall, and in Thursday’s final the Hawks did not allow a shot on goal en route to their 13th shutout of the season.
“Everybody’s doing their part,” Song said. “That’s actually what makes our team great this year. Every game we could feed off somebody else.”