The Patterson Mill Huskies girls soccer team is headed back to the state finals.
The Huskies (7-9) beat Smithsburg (9-7), 1-0, Friday night in a Class 1A state semifinal played at Northeast-Anne Arundel High School in Pasadena.
The Huskies will play for the 1A state title Thursday at Loyola University. The opponent will be Loch Raven (8-8), a 2-1 winner over McDonough in the other semifinal. Game time is set for 5 p.m., but that time could change to a 3:30 p.m. start if the Loyola men’s soccer team hosts the Patriot League championship game on Saturday afternoon.
The game’s lone goal was scored with 13:47 left in the second half. Junior Lauren Westbrook tallied the goal, which came off a throw-in and then cross from freshman Maya Pantezelos.
“I just saw it coming to me and I was just like, I got to kick it,” Westbrook said. “So, I just stuck my foot out and then, it went in.”
It was more than just sticking a foot out. Pantezelos sent the ball toward the middle where Westbrook turned and one-timed the ball into the goal, up and over Leopards freshman goalie Kayla Ward. The shot came from about eight yards out.
“We got fortunate, it was a beautiful goal by Lauren,” Huskies coach Mike Parker said.
Moments before it was the hustle of Westbrook that led to the eventual throw-in opportunity.
Until that goal-scoring moment, it was a fairly even played game with little to no, real scoring opportunities for either team.
The Huskies played a lot of balls deep toward the Leopards goal, but often, too deep. Huskies coach Parker says that was the game plan.
“We knew what their strengths were, their strengths were 11 (Bailey Grove) and 14 (Amanda Hawbecker), They’re up top, sometimes 11 plays their center midfield position,” Parker said. “We knew what our strengths were. We had speed up top. Julie [Thomas], our freshman has scored in two of our three playoff games and we got that from speed, playing the ball through.”
That style, if nothing else, kept the ball away from the Huskies goal. When it wasn’t, Huskies defenders were up to the task. Senior sweeper Evie Wysong was the backbone of that defense, that led to Huskies goalie MacKenzie Milstead making just one save.
“We had a few slip-ups, but overall we were extremely solid in the back,” Wysong said. Outside backs Anna Salerno and Kayla Barr and stopper Madison Dawson make up the defense. “I thank my outside backs and my stopper so much. They are fantastic players, so solid. It’s just, I don’t think I’ve ever played with backs that have the heart and desire to get back for every ball like they do,” Wysong said. “We wouldn’t have had a shutout if the whole thing didn’t come together the way it did.”
It was Smithsburg’s Grove who had the best scoring chances for her team. They came just a few minutes apart, just minutes before the Huskies goal, but both shots missed the goal, wide.
The other decent chance for Smithsburg came just five minutes into the second half. Madison Ashbaugh delivered the shot that was, too, high on a feed from Taylor Mackrell.
Neither team had a really good scoring chance in the first half, but Patterson Mill’s best opportunities came in the first minute of play and the other in the final two minutes.
The Huskies moved the ball right down the field in the first minute. Pantezelos sent the ball toward the middle from the right, where freshman Thomas handled it, but her shot was knocked down no sooner than it left her foot.
In the final two minutes of the opening half, it was a Westbrook shot from 25 yards out that Leopards goalie Ward (four saves) had to knock down with one hand and grab with two.
With 15 minutes left in the half, Wysong’s direct kick from 30 yards out sailed high.