Winters Mill coach Denny Snyder said his girls’ soccer team needed people to step up in Saturday’s Class 2A state semifinal with Hereford at River Hill in Howard County.
Snyder knew the Falcons would be missing top scoring threat Anna Diffendal (sprained MCL in her knee) but they needed help. Goalie Megan Alisauckas gave them lots of it, but Winters Mill couldn’t quite pull it off on a cold night.
Alisauckas made 20 saves and her defense played strong in front of her, helping the game go to overtime tied 1-1 and then into penalty kicks. That went seven rounds before Hereford won, 5-4.
The Falcons (12-4) had a chance to win in the fifth round of penalty kicks but Kaitlyn Belfield missed on her shot, sending it wide right.
In the seventh round, which is sudden death, Ryan Musolf scored for the Bulls but Caroline Heffner of Winters Mill fired a shot high, which let Hereford advance to the state title game against River Hill this week.
Hereford (15-2-1) dominated the early part of the game, coming up with a number of scoring chances while the Falcons found few. The Bulls had lots of speed and used it well and often.
Freshman Payton Patrick sped through the Winters Mill defense and fired a 15-yard shot that Alisauckas stopped in the fourth minute.
Patrick struck again about four minutes later. She broke free and lined a shot that Alisauckas grabbed with a quick diving save.
About 10 minutes later, Patrick tried once more with a 20-yard shot that curled wide left, and the game remained scoreless. After taking Hereford’s early punches, though, Winters Mill slowly seemed to find its way.
The Falcons struggled with getting the ball into the Hereford end in the early minutes. In fact, Alisauckas made six saves before Hereford keeper Lucy Griffin even needed to come up with one.
But Winters Mill slowly began getting the ball down into the Bulls’ end and finding opportunities as the clocked ticked on in the first half.
The Falcons eventually got a corner kick that was sent towards the right post but Shelby Reppe leaped up and headed the ball past Griffin inside the left post. That gave Winters Mill a 1-0 lead with 5:23 remaining in the half.
The Falcons took that lead into the second half, and Alisauckas and the defense needed to step up on several occasions.
In the ninth minute, Anna Coleman fired a shot from the top of the box that curled right into Alisauckas’ hands. Then, three minutes later, the Falcons really just missed some trouble.
That’s when Alisacukas made a diving save on a Rachel Saunders shot. The goalie couldn’t control the ball after the stop, and it rolled free in front of the goal but no Hereford player could reach the ball and put it into the net.
Hereford kept pushing as the second half wore on while Winters Mill repeatedly cleared effectively and played tight defense overall.
Finally, though, the Bulls broke through. Patrick centered a ball from the left side, and Lily Robertson redirected it past Alisauckas with just 8:19 left in the second half, tying the game at 1-1. That helped send the game into overtime.
Alisauckas robbed Patrick in the first overtime once more and kept the game going. The senior made a diving stop when Patrick broke free and shot from 10 yards with just under two minutes left.
Patrick nearly won it early in the second overtime with a left-footed shot from 12 yards that Alisauckas leaped and knocked up into the air before quickly catching it. Hereford kept pushing but the game went to penalty kicks.
Goals: WM-Shelby Reppe; H-Lily Robertson.
Assists: WM-none; H-Payton Patrick.
Saves: WM- 20 (Megan Alisauckas); H-5 (Lucy Griffin).
Halftime: WM, 1-0.