Girls soccer teams from C. Milton Wright and Fallston will play for state championships this week after winning state semifinal games over the weekend.
The Cougars scored a 1-0 semifinal victory over Calvert in the 2A semi Friday. The Mustangs topped Urbana, 2-1, in their 3A semi Saturday.
Breaking a jinx
The C. Milton Wright girls broke a two-year state semifinal jinx Saturday evening at CCBC-Essex.
In beating Urbana, 2-1, in a Class 3A state semifinal, the Mustangs win avenged a 1-0 loss to Urbana in last year's semifinals. The Mustangs also lost to Huntingtown, 1-0, in 2010. In both cases, the game-deciding goal came late in the second half.
"Oh my god, it's such a good feeling," Abby Smucker, C. Milton Wright's senior captain, said following Saturday's victory. "Coming into this game, we knew we were here twice and we knew that feeling of getting all the way here and losing and we didn't want that happening again, so the third time is a charm."
Smucker, the Mustangs first team all-state defender, was one of several players taken down hard in the contest. Unlike the others, Smucker never played in the second half after suffering a hamstring injury late in the first half, the second time she was taken down.
Urbana players were hit with four yellow cards, two within the first 25 minutes of the game.
Despite the hard and, at times, borderline dirty play, CMW found a way to cope and score.
The Mustangs broke on top at the 30:56 mark on a free kick from 29-yards out. Angela Kuhn played the ball in short of the Urbana goal, where Sarah Piazza delivered the ball to Kathy Kammerer, who scored off the Urbana goalie's hands.
Hawks keeper Natasja Hirabayashi got her left hand on the shot, but the force of the close shot allowed the ball to deflect past Hirabayashi's hand and trickle into the goal.
CMW added its second goal with 13:11 left on a feed from Smucker to fellow senior midfielder Liz Burgee.
Smucker one-timed a ball that was headed out of the Urbana zone, up and over the Hawks defense to Burgee.
Burgee collected the ball, took one dribble to her left and another around the goalie, before turning and placing it into the empty net for a 2-0 lead.
CMW may have still been in celebration mode as Urbana answered exactly one minute later off a set play.
Urbana senior Jen Heflin placed a corner kick onto the head of teammate Jenny Marshall, a two-time, first team all-state performer. Marshall showed why, planting the ball off the inside of the post, high into the goal.
Over a five-minute span just past midway in the half, Urbana picked up the intensity, but the Mustangs answered every challenge.
Speaking on the play of Kelsey Targarona and Kuhn, Smucker said, "They both stepped up for us big in the second half." Targarona slid to the middle in Smucker's spot, and Kuhn filled the empty spot on the side.
"I just think our experience showed tonight," Mustangs head coach Paul Austin said. "They not only want it very badly, they stayed calm, very poised and it showed. They've been that way all year."
That was a bit hard to do at times because of the physical play of the Hawks.