WINFIELD — The southern end of Carroll County flocked to South Carroll’s Parker Field on Thursday to witness the Cavaliers take on Liberty in a pivotal Carroll County Athletic League girls soccer matchup.
The Lions entered the contest on a three-game win streak that included county victories over Westminster and Manchester Valley. The Cavaliers had won four straight, with county wins over Francis Scott Key and Westminster.
However, the Lions extended their streak to four games with a 3-2 victory over the Cavaliers to set up Friday’s anticipated county championship contest against undefeated Century.
Senior forward Alanna Wray scored twice for the Lions (11-2, 5-0 CCAL), and her second goal came late in the second half for the game-winner.
“I’m really excited and I’m just proud of my team for putting in the work and finishing strong,” Wray said. “I know there were some points where we just wanted to sit in, but we couldn’t. We had intensity the entire time, and I was just really proud of everyone tonight.”
Wray gave the Lions an early 1-0 lead when she received a pass from junior midfielder Emma Bauer and connected with the back of the net just under nine minutes into the start of the game.
It took just seven minutes for South Carroll to respond, and senior midfielder Peyton Golueke fired a high shot that dipped over the head of Liberty goalie Caitlin Mulholland to tie the score at 1-1.
Wray weaved through the Cavaliers’ defense on a brief breakaway with less than five minutes left in the first half, but SC junior defender Grace Nieman pushed the ball out of play. Wray took a corner kick, and the ball was deflected out to the left by CAvs goalie Paige Abbott.
Liberty junior midfielder Grace Johnson connected with the ball and fired it to the back of the net before Abbott could touch it to give the Lions a 2-1 lead with 4:02 left in the first half.
SC sophomore midfielder Madelyn Boyce sent a high shot in, similar to Golueke’s in the first half, and it met its mark to to tie things up again early in the second half to keep the Cavs in it once again. Wray’s second goal came with about 8:44 left to play, and Bauer notched her second assist on the tally.
“I always thought we could stay in it, 100%,” Wray said. “The adversity was thrown in our face, and I knew that my team was strong enough to handle whatever was thrown at them so I was relieved, but just exciting to keep pushing it.”
Lions coach Danni Prietz said the team changed its formation in those remaining minutes to avoid another scoring opportunity for SC. Mulholland made 11 saves, and Abbott made 12 for the Cavaliers (10-2, 4-2).
Century and Liberty are both undefeated in the county, and the Knights have yet to lose a game all season. Friday’s county title clash is also slated to be Liberty’s Senior Night, and the Lions will honor the team’s 12 seniors.
“I think we’re just excited for another game, and that’s what they have to keep in mind,” Prietz said. “It’s just another game for us, so we’re going to take it as that and move forward and continue to play and grow.
“If we need to make adjustments, we’ll make adjustments but it’s just another game.”
Goals: L-Alanna Wray 2, Grace Johnson; SC-Peyton Golueke, Madelyn Boyce.
Assists: L-Emma Bauer 2.
Saves: L-11 (Caitlin Mulholland); SC-12 (Paige Abbott).
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Halftime: Liberty, 2-1.