Patterson Mill's Mariel Castronova is good at redirecting balls from her teammates, so when senior Emily Keesling hit the ball to the left post, the Huskies sophomore knocked it in.
A simple play, but a big play, too.
The score put No. 12 Patterson Mill on the road to a 2-1 victory over No. 10 Notre Dame Prep. But that wasn't all it did.
"Because of our last game, we were kind of down," said Castronova, recalling her team's 6-0 loss this week to No. 13 Hereford. "When we scored, you could see it brought our confidence back up."
The win was Patterson Mill's first of the season and relieved some pressure from last year's Class 1A state runner-up.
The Huskies are playing a tougher schedule than usual. They have a number of sophomores and freshmen in key positions, including sophomore goalie Maddie Hedrick, who is starting in place of the graduated Gabby Brooks, the first-team All-Metro selection who now plays for Wake Forest.
After losing a close game to No. 7 and 2A state champion River Hill and then to Hereford, the Huskies were searching for a morale boost.
"Today, we played like we know how to play," Patterson Mill coach Shannon Troyer said. "I purposely made this schedule as hard as possible. I'd rather lose every game than win them all against easy opponents. You learn from hard games. And I think we're now coming together for the first time this season."
All the inspiration proved a little too much for Notre Dame Prep, which saw its record drop to 3-1. Blazers coach Maggie Huether said her team has struggled to find itself.
"The past two games, we haven't played as a team," she said. "They scored those two goals almost right in a row with a little more than 15 minutes left in the first half. It took us out of our stride. Their goalie played well, but we didn't play very good offense."
The Blazers stayed on the attack, though, despite seeing Patterson Mill sophomore Julie Sibbesen score minutes after Castronova's goal off a pass from freshman Linnea Gonzales, who notched her first career assist.
NDP junior Kendal Packo finally pushed the ball into Patterson Mill's net with 27 seconds to play, but the team could not get the tying score past Hedrick, who made 15 saves.
"Last year, we were leading 1-0, and in the last 30 seconds, they scored to tie it," Castronova said. "Today, when they scored, it was like, 'Oh, my God.' We started shouting, 'Everyone get back on defense.'"
"And they did," said Hedrick, who remained cool.
"I was nervous when the game started," the goalie said. "But my confidence grew as the game went on. The defense — Lauren West, Amy Beil and Christina Claypool — were right in front of me, and they kept telling me I was doing great."
Goals: PM--Castronova, Sibbesen; NDP--n/a.
Assists: PM--Keesling, Gonzales; NDP--n/a.
Saves: PM--Hedrick 15; NDP--n/a.
Half: PM, 2-0.