It was a historic moment when Long Reach stepped onto the field against Marriotts Ridge Saturday evening.
No Long Reach team had ever reached this round, the regional semifinals, in the postseason playoffs.
Now Long Reach gets to continue rewriting its history after beating Marriotts Ridge, 2-1, in the Class 2A East Region playoffs played at Howard.
“This is a historical moment, a big moment for us,” said Heather Glasser, who scored the winning goal. “We prepared for this day and we executed.”
The Lightning will host Loch Raven, a 1-0 winner over Oakland Mills, in the regional championship game Monday at 5 p.m. The winner advances to the state semifinal game.
In other playoff games, Atholton easily handled Stephen Decatur, 5-0, in one Class 3A East semifinal and River Hill held off Wilde Lake, 1-0, in the other. They will play for the regional title Monday.
In the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland’s C Conference, Park ousted Glenelg Country School form the playoffs with a 2-0 win in the semifinals.
Long Reach’s win was not sealed until the final seconds of regulation when Marriotts Ridge missed a free kick from inches outside the box.
Glasser’s goal came at the 27-minute mark in the second half. She settled a pass from Kristen Fawole and hit a low line drive into the net. That put Long Reach up, 2-0.
With eight minutes left, Marriotts Ridge’s Alexis Zadjura cut across the midfield and angled in a shot that eluded keeper Emily Bradford to make it 2-1.
“I thought she was in the box and I went out and she put it right past me,” said Bradford, who had seven saves for the evening.
But that 1v1 was nothing compared to what was to come in the final seconds. Marriotts Ridge drew a foul inches outside the box and Morgan Crable took the free kick. Her shot was deflected by Long Reach’s wall.
Marriotts Ridge never got off a follow-up corner kick.
“The pressure was horrible,” said Bradford about the free kick. “But I just knew I had to focus. Thankfully I had enough people in the wall.”
“I was confident in our defense but with Morgan Crable (taking the shot) at the 18 ½, I was thinking there was a good chance she could put it on goal and it would be hard to defend. There would be nothing we could do if she put it over the defense,” said Erik Sandersen, whose team has posted its best season record ever at 11-5.
“I thought we had (the tying goal) in those final two seconds. We were a second too short,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Robin Grey.
Fawole scored the first goal 13 minutes into the game. Allie Johnston sent a through ball from inside Long Reach’s own territory and Fawole dribbled through several defenders for about 35 yards. When keeper Emily McQuarrie (five saves) came out, Fawole drilled the ball into the open net.
The speed of Fawole and Ana Rebaza, coupled with the work of Ann Bonner in the midfield, created problems for Marriotts Ridge all evening.
“It’s so hard to contain that kind of speed for 80 minutes,” said Marriotts Ridge’s Zoe Stukenberg. “We got some unlucky breaks, but (Long Reach) is well coached, athletic and fast.”
This is the second time Marriotts Ridge has advanced so far in the playoffs. In 2009, the Mustangs lost to Glenelg, which advanced to the state semifinals. “We’ve never gotten past Glenelg” until this year, said Crable. “We are making progress. It is comforting to know that we played our hearts out tonight.”
Marriotts Ridge (8-6-1) has battled numerous injuries this fall. To reach the semifinals this year is “amazing,” said Grey. “To go through so much and still trudge on is a testament to our girls’ resiliency.”
Atholton made the long bus ride to Stephen Decatur on the Eastern Shore and came back with a 5-0 win. Katrina Macadoff scored twice and had an assist for the Raiders. Maddie Boccio (goal, two assists), Jenna Brewer, Darcey Bodziony and Isabelle Kim also scored for Atholton. Sage Mayhew had six saves.
The Raiders have outscored their opponents 12-2 in two playoff games.
River Hill had a tougher time in its one-goal semifinal win over Wilde Lake. Michaela Hennessy scored off a cross from Alex Hamer 10 minutes into second half for the only goal of the game.
Wilde Lake “packed in and played defense well and we had multiple opportunities, but hit a cross bar,” said River Hill coach Brian Song.
“We were in it the whole game,” said coach Davia Procida, whose Wilde Lake team had lost to River Hill, 4-0, earlier in the season.
“We changed our formation” this time, she said. “We put six in the midfield and took a more defensive approach – not to be on our heels but because they are so fast.”
Wilde Lake had the ball in the front of the goal with five seconds on the clock, but couldn’t push it across.
“We lost but my players had a smile on their faces because they played as well as they possibly could. To hold a team like River Hill to one goal is definitely an accomplishment,” Procida said.
River Hill had beaten Mt. Hebron, 6-0, in its previous playoff win while Wilde Lake (8-6-1) beat Reservoir in penalty kicks.
River Hill, now 16-0, will likely host Atholton on Monday at 6 p.m. and the winner advances to the state playoffs.
River Hill has won seven state titles, the last in 2008. Atholton has made just one state appearance, in 2004.