The Reservoir girls soccer team executed its plan to near perfection in the first half of Tuesday's early round playoff game against Howard County rival Atholton.
The Gators were first to most every ball, connecting passes to create scoring chances and organized defensively when needed.
The only thing missing was a goal, but they were determined to score in the second half.
And they did.
Sophomore forward Kayla Pindell scored the games only goal in the 46th minute to help Reservoir secure the 1-0 win over Atholton in the Class 3A East Section II semifinal in Fulton.
The Gators improve to 11-4 on the season and will take on Howard County champion and No. 5 River Hill — a 1-0 winner over Wilde Lake — in the section final on Friday. Atholton, which came away with a 2-0 win against Reservoir on Oct. 17, finishes with a 7-5-1 mark.
After the productive but frustrating first half, the Gators were able to find relief early in the second half. Senior Keri Rager started the scoring play in the right corner, sending a short cross to junior Darci Fehr on the same side. Her shot from 18 yards was halfway to the goal when Pindell got a foot on it to send it to the near post for the 1-0 lead.
"We felt a lot of pressure just because we had so many opportunities in the first half," Pindell said. "We got it down there and it was just a matter of putting one in. I just kind of got a touch on it. It was awesome."
The Gators got a strong all-around game from senior Delaney Reiff, who was largely responsible for marking Atholton's top offensive threat, Jaylyn Chandler, controlling play at midfield and attacking when presented the opportunity.
"It took awhile for us to get one in the goal, but I think we just came out with intensity this game and our main focus was just to stay connected the whole 80 minutes and that's why we won," Reiff said. "I was just trying to keep everybody pumped up and continue the way we were playing because I knew there was a goal in us and we just needed to execute one."
In the regular-season win, Atholton got an early goal from Chandler and then another late after the Gators sent more players forward in a bid to tie. This time, the Raiders simply didn't have the ball enough to play the possession game that helped them go 5-0-1 in their previous six games. They had one quality scoring chance in each half, but the Reservoir defense and junior goalie Abby Gillum (four saves) were up to every challenge.
Atholton coach Stephanie Stoutenborough was quick to credit the Gators .
"They definitely came out more intense and took advantage of us not stepping to the ball — they won every 50-50 ball," she said. "The last couple weeks we found our niche and we thought that would lead into the playoffs, but unfortunately it didn't click for us today."
Class 3A East Section II semifinal
Reservoir 1, Atholton 0
Goals: R -- Pindell
Assists: R -- Fehr
Saves: A – D. Bodziony 8; R – Gillum 4