Winters Mill had not scored a goal in six games before facing Carroll County Athletic League foe Westminster on Saturday morning.
The Falcons won their first three games of the season, but dropped their next six — all shutouts. Sophomore defender Leah Taylor made sure it wouldn’t happen for a seventh time, and scored a goal with 3 minutes, 38 seconds left in sudden-death overtime to give the Falcons the 1-0 victory over the Owls.
Taylor was mobbed by her Falcons teammates at midfield as coach Denny Snyder took a moment to compose himself on the sideline.
“The best thing about scoring a goal is after when your whole team just storms you because there’s no other feeling like it,” Taylor said. “We’re family, and it’s nice.”
“When we say ‘4, 5, 6, Family,’ we all mean it,” Falcons senior defender Megan Paschall added, referring to the team’s cheer before the start of every game.
The victory was special for this year’s seven Winters Mill seniors, who likely played their final game on the Falcons’ home field Saturday.
Paschall, a 2018 Times first-team all-county player, was moved to the top of the Falcons’ formation as a forward for the second half. She said this victory was “bittersweet,” and that it helped the team put a positive foot forward with playoffs approaching.
Paschall came up big for the Falcons (4-6, 1-4 CCAL) on defense a handful of times in the first half, and it was a midfield battle for most of the half. Westminster took a pair of shots on goal, but they did not hit their mark.
Winters Mill junior goalie Reilly Lockwood was pelted with shots in the second half, and made 17 saves for the Falcons overall. Two of those saves came in the second overtime period and were close scoring chances for Westminster.
The teams were nearing 100 minutes of playing time when Taylor’s shot from about 35 yards away connected with the back of the goal to eliminate the Falcons’ scoring woes.
“We’ve tried multiple people up top throughout the season, and it hasn’t really been working so we’re trying to move many people up,” Paschall said. “We’re getting scoring opportunities, but none are just going in, and we keep trying. Throughout the season, it’s just been hard not scoring but we’re trying to keep a positive mindset and want it more than the other team.
“We want it more than them, we should be the winning team.”
The victory was the Falcons’ first county win of the year, and their home county finale. They face Francis Scott Key on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Westminster (4-7-1, 1-3-1) faces South Carroll on Tuesday to close out county play.
The Owls shared goalkeeping duties against the Falcons — Jeanna Whetzel made three saves in the first half, and Sydney Hetrick made 10.
Snyder, who expressed emotion at the end of the game, praised the Falcons’ effort for adjusting to new roles and embracing any opportunity to find success. The team most recently played Rising Sun on Thursday, and suffered a 1-0 loss in double overtime.
Snyder told his players to focus on the next three games at hand, and to use those as motivation for the playoffs.
“We’ve been in overtime games before, so they have that experience,” Snyder said. “I feel like we’re playing some real good soccer right now and I feel like we played close to 100 good minutes and were rewarded. You’re not going to make any shots unless you shoot it, and Leah took that opportunity, and I give her all the credit in the world. It was perfectly placed.”
Goals: WM-Leah Taylor.
Saves: W-13 (Jeanna Whetzel 3, Sydney Hetrick 10).
Halftime: Tied, 0-0.