For a second straight year, the Class 3A state semifinals turned out to be a disappointing roadblock for the C. Milton Wright girls soccer team.
This time, it was Urbana from Frederick County which found a way past the No. 5 Mustangs, getting a goal from senior forward Nia Giron with 5:44 to play to come away with a 1-0 win Saturday at CCBC-Essex.
C. Milton Wright, which lost to Calvert County's Huntingtown, 1-0, in last year's semifinals on a goal coming with 12 minutes left, ends this season with a 14-5 mark.
Urbana (14-3-2) will meet Huntingtown — a 1-0 winner over defending champion Reservoir in Saturday's other semifinal — for the state crown next week at UMBC. The state finals will be played Nov. 17-19 with specific dates and times yet to be determined.
The Mustangs created a number of scoring chances in a closely marked semifinal Saturday — mostly on corner and direct kicks that weren't finished off.
The Hawks converted their chance late in the game, when senior Paige Humphreys used some nifty footwork to gain space on the left side before sending a ball in front to Giron for the winner.
"You always know at this point it's going to be a close game and one play or one ball touched correctly would be the difference, and they're the ones that did it," C. Milton Wright coach Paul Austin said. "It's heartbreaking when there's six minutes to go, but we played hard and it was just one of those things."
The Mustangs, who won the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference, started only one senior and had just three on the roster this season.
Huntingtown 1, No. 14 Reservoir 0: The defending state champion Gators (9-9) had their late-season surge come to an end when the Hurricanes (17-1) got a second-half goal from sophomore forward Victoria Bellucci to avenge last year' 1-0 loss in the championship game.
Scoring chances were limited throughout the game until Bellucci took a short through ball from Micaela Antzoulatos and neatly placed a shot to the right corner from eight yards with 16:32 to play.
The Gators pressed the rest of the game for the tying goal — earning five corner kicks and getting off a number of shots — but they were unable to get anything past goalie Shelby Taylor, who grabbed a dangerous free kick sent in by Gators' senior midfielder Michelle Viegas in the closing seconds. All-Metro junior Amanda Jackson had a fine all-around game, seeing time up front, at midfield and in the back for the Gators.
Plagued with early-season injuries, Reservoir was able to overcome a 1-7 start to claim its third straight regional championship, avenging losses to Howard County rivals Centennial and Mount Hebron to reach the state tournament.
"I'm not sure they appreciate what they accomplished right now because it stings, but it's something that I hope they can look back on," Reservoir coach Josh Sullivan said. "That's what I'm proud of, the determination to not throw it in and to see what you can accomplish when everybody is together."
Class 3A state semifinals
Huntingtown 1, No. 14 Reservoir 0
Goals: H – Bellucci.
Assists: H – Antzoulatos
Saves: H – Taylor 6; R – Fowler 2.
Urbana 1, No. 5 C. Milton Wright 0
Goals: U – Giron
Assists: U – Humphreys
Saves: C – Venanzi 2 ; U – Hirabayashi 4