Lexi Kraemer's goal just over seven minutes into the second half lifted Bel Air to the Class 3A North Region girls soccer title Wednesday night at Bel Air High School. The Bobcats beat Towson, 1-0.
The win puts the Bobcats (14-4) into Saturday's 3A state semifinals to be played at Linganore High School at a time yet determined.
Fallston, meanwhile needed an extended shootout to win the 2A East title at Queen Anne’s, 1-0.
The game-wining goal came off a restart after a Towson foul. Senior MacKenzie Wallace delivered the ball toward the center of the goalie box, where Kraemer put a head on it. The senior had enough force on the shot to get it past Towson goalie Sofia Sorteberg.
"We knew Kenzie could lob it over and we always want to get a header on the ball, no matter what," Kraemer said. "That's our best opportunity and I just saw the ball--Kenzie placed it really good in front of the goal—and I just saw the ball up in the air and I just got up and hoped for the best and it went in."
The goal came after the Bobcats had numerous other offensive pushes that came up with shots saved by Sorteberg or missed high or wide.
The Bobcats had a clear advantage in size and experience, but the smaller and younger Generals played tough throughout.
Towson's best scoring chances came in the first half. A direct kick by sophomore Elizabeth Taylor missed high and right 13 minutes in and a minute later a run into the box was denied by Bobcats goalie Jill Kozak, who slid to take away the chance.
"I think we were getting flustered and not playing our game, not playing with speed, not playing possession," Towson coach Lauren Hanley said. "Not playing down to their kick-and-run tactics, because they play it out of the back like that. So, we have a really young team, there were only two juniors out there and the rest were freshman and sophomores."
Towson (9-6) also had it's only corner kick of the game in the first half, but it was quickly kicked away by the Bobcats defense.
The Bobcats had two corner kicks late in the first half, but neither produced a decent shot. Prior to them, Kraemer's individual effort put a ball out front where Carolyn Doheny stood. Doheny delivered two shots, but both were challenged by Towson defenders and knocked down.
The Bobcats had another chance with three minutes left in the half, but a shot by Wallace was snagged by Sorteberg, who finished with 10 saves.
Just a minute after the goal the Bobcats did get, senior Elizabeth Hillman made a run, slid the ball to Kraemer, who missed just wide.
"The last time I won a regional championship here was my freshman year, because I moved away," Hillman said. "The feeling's the same, it's the same great feeling, running off the field at the end with your teammates and just embracing with everyone."
The title was the Bobcats fifth straight and first for Bobcats head coach Josh Ruggiero. "Our goal came from our girls getting hungry at the right time and that was huge for us," Ruggiero said. "Then we were able to continue to keep the pressure on and that was the final piece for us. If we kept pressure on them and didn't let them have opportunities, the game was going to roll our way. I'm so proud of them for getting back here and letting the coaching staff ride along with them."
Fallston won in penalty kicks that lasted 11 rounds, which meant all 11 players on the field took a kick.
That worked out for the Cougars (10-6-2) as goalie Emily Rhinehart provided the game-winning goal. The Cougars won the shootout, 8-7.
Other Cougars converting penalty kicks were Sammy Decarlo, Taylor Dudley, Grace Tarrant, Hailey Isaac, Bekah Taylor, Taylor Aumiller and Rachel Richard.
“It was by far the craziest shootout I’ve ever experienced. You never see it go more than five or six rounds, so to go eleven was insane,” Cougars coach Carlie Andrews said. “I️ am so proud of every girl getting up there to take a PK with our season on the line. They all stepped up and did a phenomenal job. It takes guts, but that’s what we are made of.”
In addtion to the winning PK, Rhinehart made four saves for the Cougars.
Fallston will meet River Hill on Saturday at River Hill High School in 2A state semifinal action. The time is yet to be determined.
Huskies blank Eagles
The Patterson Mill girls played Tuesday, making the trip to the lower Eastern Shore to meet Snow Hill on turf for the Class 1A East title.
It was all Huskies (10-5-1) in a 7-0 shutout over the Eagles. Patterson Mill will meet McDonough in a Class 1A state semifinal at Northeast-Anne Arundel High School. The game will be played Friday or Saturday at a time to be determined.
In the girls win, the third straight region title for the Huskies, Kaley Thompson had two goals and two assists to lead the Huskies. Singke goals were scored by Alexis Utain, Erin Lloyd, Riley Brown, Kate Springer and Marissa Lapinsky.
Also adding an assist each were Bethany Bruck, Lapinsky and Lloyd.