Late in the second half of Thursday's Class 3A girls soccer state title game, River Hill junior defender Callie Allen had a chance to score the goal that would win the championship for the Hawks, but her shot was turned away by C. Milton Wright sophomore goalkeeper Stacy Venanzi.
When Allen had another chance in front in overtime, she converted for her fourth goal of the season and her first game-winner.
Haily Emrick's free kick from the left side eventually found its way to Allen, who finished off the chance with 3:47 left in the first 10-minute overtime period that gave the No. 1 Hawks a thrilling 1-0 win, 1-0, over the No. 5 Mustangs at UMBC Stadium. With the victory, River Hill completed a perfect 19-0 season for the program's eighth state championship.
"We got fouled and it was a beautiful ball by Haily. I just thought to myself, 'This is all that I ever wanted.' I just went in there with all my heart and prayed that it was a goal [laughs]," Allen said. "I was just thinking, 'I want to win.'"
C. Milton Wright (17-2-1) returned a tight group of seniors this season that together endured disappointing one-goal losses in the state semifinal round the past two years. The Mustangs, who played without senior defender Kelsey Targarona after she was injured during warmups, took the next step in reaching the title game, but ultimately fell a goal short of capturing the program's second championship.
"Our girls stepped up, played hard and played well and I couldn't be prouder — it was just one of those situations where we didn't get the goal," C. Milton Wright coach Paul Austin said.
The 80 minutes of regulation were tightly contested, with every ball fiercely challenged and both teams trying to figure out how to solve organized defenses. The Mustangs had a faster start in the first half, earning two early corner kicks that created a solid scoring chance when junior midfielder Angela Kuhn had a header in front go just high over the crossbar five minutes into play.
But the best chance in the half came late and belonged to River Hill sophomore forward Alex Hamer. Just minutes after firing a shot from 35 yards on which Venanzi made the first save of the game, Hamer got a step behind the Mustangs' defense on the left and sent a low shot from 8 yards that went just wide of the far post with 12 minutes left before intermission.
The Hawks had significantly more time with the ball in the second half and had a number of scoring chances to break through, but couldn't find the answer.
After some nifty work to gain space on the left side, Michaela Hennessy sent a cross to the near post for Hamer, who quickly one-timed a shot from inside 6 yards that banged off the near post with 31 minutes left in the second half.
With the Hawks controlling play late in the second half, Emrick hit a free kick from the left to the far post for Allen, whose point-blank shot from 8 yards was turned away and then smothered by Venanzi with 9:05 remaining in regulation.