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The Wilde Lake girls soccer team’s improbable playoff run ended harshly on Saturday.

The No. 5-seeded Wildecats, who reached the state title game after pulling off three straight upsets, lost 5-0 to No. 2 Northern-Calvert in the Class 3A state championship. Rachel Deresky scored four goals at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex to lead the Patriots to their second straight state championship.

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“If I think about to the journey we’ve had through the playoffs, we had to play some hard opponents to get here,” said Wilde Lake head coach Megan Shea. “We had to play the three-time-defending (2A) state champions in River Hill and two other teams we’d lost to or had never beaten before (Mt. Hebron and Chesapeake). Everyone will think about this last game, but I want to think about how amazing this journey has been.”

Winning a state championship game by five goals isn’t common, but for the Patriots, blowouts have been the norm. Northern outscored its playoff opponents 36-2 in their six-victory playoff run. The win over Wilde Lake was the Patriots’ 11th triumph of five-plus goals this season.

“This is so exciting,” said Deresky, a junior forward. “The two-peat feels great. ... We want another one, so we’ll be back next year.”

Deresky, a Vanderbilt University commit, used her speed and keen game sense to score early and often for Northern (15-3). Her goals came in the 3rd, 33rd, 41st and 59th minutes and were scored in diverse ways — two were assisted by teammates, one was off a free kick and the other was a one-on-one she won.

“If you key on Rachel, then Madi (Neall) and Sarah (Eliff) are going to score goals,” said Northern-Calvert head coach John Battle. “If you don’t key on her, she’s going to score goals.”

The Patriots from Calvert County didn’t take long to make their presence felt on the cold, breezy afternoon at Loyola. Less than three minutes into the game, Deresky fired a goal to the left side of the net on a free kick from just outside the 18. Wilde Lake goalie Hannah Lowry, who led the Wildecats to the state title game with a key stop in penalty kicks against Chesapeake in the semifinals, got her hands on the shot, but Deresky’s strong ball was too hard to redirect away from the goal.

“I was actually aiming right, but it worked out," said Deresky with a laugh. "It was all Kayla (Turner), because she got the foul. I was glad we were able to score there.”

Northern-Calvert scored 13 minutes later off one of the Patriots’ six corner kicks they drew in the first 20 minutes of the contest. Sarah Eliff sent the cross into the box, Kathryn Lawless headed the ball near the goal and Nicole Brissett, with her back turned to the goal, lifted her leg and directed it into the back of the net.

“That was very important,” said Battle of the fast start. “When we’re over there warming up, the boys team from Wilde Lake won in overtime, and I thought that would be a shot of adrenaline for the Wilde Lake girls. So we wanted to come in and get to work straight away and take something out of their sails.”

“It definitely does add pressure,” said Wilde Lake’s Gia Johnson about trailing early. “We have to attack faster and harder because we’re down.”

Deresky scored again before the end of the first half and twice more in the second half. She said the Patriots’ stout defense gives the attack confidence to be aggressive. Northern goalie Emily Cummings wasn’t challenged often to pitch the Patriots’ third straight shutout.

“We’re super comfortable with our defense,” Deresky said. “Both of our forwards stay wide and high the whole game, and we rely on our defense. Taylor (Tolson) is such a great defender. We have complete trust in them.”

Shea said Northern’s aggressiveness on their counter attacks gave the Wildecats defense trouble. Wilde Lake’s defenders and Lowry played an integral part of leading the Wildecats (10-5-1) to the state title game, allowing only two goals in their previous four playoff contests.

“They’d win a ball, and they’d come at us quickly,” Shea said. “Usually forwards will sit, but theirs seemed to move all around. They created some confusion in the back there, and that was our main issue there today. Our defense has been one of our strongest pieces of our team, so it’s definitely credit to how amazing their forwards were to create that confusion against our typically very solid defense.”

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Shea, who is in her fourth season as Wilde Lake’s head coach, said the six-player senior class of Nicole Wright, Angie Geralis, Lily Richards, Autumn Wright, Kheira Tuck and Meridian McCall were the “heartbeat” of a team that was expected to take a step back after the Wildecats graduated three Division I soccer players from last year’s squad.

“Those girls obviously have special meaning to me, because I’ve watched them grow as freshmen to the incredible leaders of our team,” Shea said. “... We had some ups and downs, but the way we were able to finish it at the end was incredible for me to see the growth these girls have had this year. I know a lot of people from outside the program or the school saw this as a rebuilding year for us. It didn’t take us a whole year to rebuild and come back as strong as we had been the past few years.”

The Wildecats win their first state title since 1997 and eighth in school history.

The loss came a few hours after the Wilde Lake boys soccer team, coached by Shea’s brother Trevor, won the boys title in overtime. Megan Shea said coaching alongside her brother at the same high school is “incredibly special.”

“I was texting my brother this morning about who would bring the ice chest to the state championship games. How many people could ever say that in their lives?,” said Megan Shea. “There aren’t a lot of people who have had the experience we’ve had this year, and I’m super thankful for that."

The 2019 calendar year has been a successful one for Wilde Lake athletics. The baseball team made a state playoff run in the spring, while football is joining the soccer teams in their playoff success with a state quarterfinal appearance.

“Sometimes when you look at our team lined up against other teams, they may not look the same as other teams — and I may not look the same as a typical coach," said Megan Shea. "What makes our team so special is that there are so many differences among all of our players and everyone in our school, but when you come into the Wilde Lake family, you’re embraced the way you are and we celebrate our differences. The ability to be this positive light in our community has been an honor.”

Goals: N — Rachel Deresky 4, Nicole Bissett. Assists: N — Kathryn Lawless, Madi Neall. Saves: N — Emily Cummings 2; WL — Hannah Lowry 4. Half: 3-0, N

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