Reisterstown - Linnea Gonzales buried a shot just 20 seconds after the opening whistle to start Patterson Mill High toward a 6-2 victory over Southern-Anne Arundel Bulldogs in the 1A state field hockey semifinal Wednesday night at Franklin High School.
The victory propelled Patterson Mill to a shot at the school's first state field hockey championship.
"Linnea, she's something else," Patterson Mill head coach Shannon Swinscoe said after her team had shaken hands with the departing Bulldogs. "She came out really fired up for this game. She wanted to get out there really bad, wanted to play. When she gets the ball and gets a clear look at the goal, you'd better watch out. When she got the ball at the beginning of the game, I thought something might happen."
Several minutes after Gonzales' scored the opening goal, Patterson Mill's Julie Sibbesen rifled off a shot into the Southern net to put the Huskies up, 2-0.
Patterson Mill dominated possession for the balance of the first half, but did not find its next goal until the halftime whistle was about to sound. With just two seconds left before the intermission, following a scramble in front of the Southern net, Sibbesen took a feed from Gonzales and scored her second goal of the evening, giving Patterson Mill a three-goal cushion heading into the second half.
Seven minutes into the second half, the Huskies took advantage of another pileup in front of the Southern goal, with the score coming this time from Jordan Salmon, who somehow threaded a shot between several defenders stacked in the goal mouth.
With just under 18 minutes left in the game, Sibbesen took control of a pass just outside the Southern penalty area, strode toward the goal and blasted a shot past the opposing goalkeeper for her third tally of the night.
With that goal, Sibbesen became the first Harford County player to score a hat trick in a state semifinal game since 2007, when Fallston's Lindsey Puckett achieved the feat in her team's 3A semifinal win over Centennial.
Gonzales was back at it eight minutes after Sibbesen's goal, scoring for the second time to give the Huskies a 6-0 advantage.
Southern scored twice in a 90-second span with less than eight minutes remaining, but the surge proved to be too little, too late. The Huskies held their opponents silent for the remainder of the game to preserve the four-goal win.
"That early goal took a whole lot of pressure off of us, definitely," Swinscoe said. "But, I think we might have slowed down a little because of that. I think the girls thought they might run away with this one. We can't afford to do that in the final."
Patterson Mill heads back to the 1A championship game for the second time since the Huskies' program started in 2007. The Huskies went to the state title game in 2010, but came up on the losing end of a 1-0 score in their matchup with Pocomoke. This year, Swinscoe says she likes her chances better.
"From my standpoint, we're a stronger team this year than we were [in 2010]," she said. "We played well the last time we were there, definitely, but this is the stronger team. We just need to play smarter in both circles. If we do, I think we have a shot."