When Marriotts Ridge and River Hill met the last time, just three weeks ago, the Mustangs edged out the Hawks 3-2 in an overtime victory.
Pinned against each other again during the 2A East regional semifinals, the Marriotts Ridge again prevailed in a tight game, this time in regulation, to defeat the Hawks 2-1.
“Marriotts Ridge gave us an excellent game” River Hill coach Shelly Chamness said. “We kept trying to come in from the middle and we were totally blocked up. We tried to correct it in the second half, but then didn’t have as many opportunities.”
River Hill scored first with a little over three minutes left in the first half. Leyla Balimtas powered a shot past defender Kate Nelson and goalie Sophia Hamilton.
After the Hawk goal, Marriotts Ridge had the center pass, put the ball in play and scored when Jenna Kerr found Maddie Courtney to even the score less than 30 seconds later.
The score was 1-1 heading into half.
Most teams who advance far in playoffs have made adjustments along the course of the season. Jasmine Williams was one such adjustment for the Mustangs.
Starting the season as a defender, Gado decided to move Williams to offense. “We needed her speed on the forward line,” she explained.
That change made way for the deciding factor in Wednesday’s contest. Williams converted a pass from Kerr to score the winning goal halfway through the second half.
River Hill had a close call, nearly scoring within the last few minutes of the game, but was unable to convert.
“Marriotts Ridge is a great team. Their defense did a really good job clearing the ball. We both played really good games, they just put it in and we didn’t,” River Hill captain Kat Varga said.
Lia Valdesuso made 10 saves in the loss, one of which was a penalty shot early in the second half. Hamilton, her counterpart, made 3.
Marriotts Ridge advances to the 2A East Regional Final for the second year in a row, where they will meet Glenelg again. The Gladiators defeated the Mustangs 2-0 in the first county game for both teams. The regional final game is set for Thursday evening at 7 p.m. on the turf at Howard High School.
Marriotts Ridge 2, River Hill 1
Goals: MR: Courtney, Williams; RH: Balimtas.
Assists: MR: Kerr 2; RH: none.
Saves: MR: Hamilton 3; RH: Valdesuso 10.
Annapolis 4, Mt Hebron 1