In a hard-fought, overtime game on Monday that both teams deserved to win, Marriotts Ridge’s Kayla Brusco came up clutch.
The senior scored twice, including the game-winning goal in the second overtime period, to lift the Mustangs to a 2-1 playoff victory over visiting Glenelg in the MPSSAA Class 2A South Region II semifinals.
“It was amazing,” Brusco said. “When that last goal went it, it was amazing. To have everyone come together as a team was awesome. Everyone did their part. We deserved it, and it was an amazing feeling.”
Brusco scored with less than a minute left in the second overtime — 51 seconds before a penalty shootout would’ve began — off an assist from Emma Gladstein.
Marriotts Ridge head coach Stacie Gado said the win is an example of the Mustangs’ depth and balance.
“We’re definitely fortunate that we have a lot of strength and depth in our team,” Gado said. “It’s not just one person. It’s 11 girls playing together.”
The win advances No. 1 Marriotts Ridge (8-3-1) to the 2A South Region II championship against No. 2 Wilde Lake (9-4), which defeated Hammond, 3-0, on Monday. The two Howard County teams didn’t play during the regular season. In a change of rules this season, the winner of the region title game — along with the other seven region champions — will be re-seeded by regular season record.
“I think this is just going to push us,” Brusco said. “We’ve gotten over that step of beating Glenelg. It’s only uphill from here. We want to (win) regionals and hopefully states. We’ve worked so hard, and we’re going to keep working as hard as we can.”
Neither team scored in the first half of the game at Marriotts Ridge High School. No. 4 Glenelg (6-8) controlled possession for the first 10 minutes, but the Gladiators couldn’t capitalize on the three straight penalty corners they earned. Marriotts Ridge then dominated possession for most of the next 30 minutes of play until Brusco scored off a corner midway through the second half. The goal was a relief, Brusco said, because the Mustangs were peppering Glenelg’s Rachel Barker with shots, but the junior goalkeeper had a dozen impressive saves throughout the game. The Mustangs had more than 10 scoreless corners before Brusco’s goal.
“Their goalie is amazing,” Brusco said. “She’s quick and very aggressive to the ball, so she would come out a lot on us. I think in field hockey we’re not used to having a goalie who is so willing to get out, so when we figured out that we couldn’t shoot into her, we had to move her to get that second shot. She’s amazing, and the fact that we could score there was awesome.”
“She played absolutely wonderfully,” said Glenelg head coach Nikki Trunzo on Barker, who tallied 15 saves in the loss. “She played so hard. She played with so much confidence and power. Her just being a junior is awesome. She is so kind and happy go lucky off the field. Then she puts those goalie pads on and she becomes a monster.”
Glenelg responded a few minutes later, though, with a goal from Sarah Kang, who fired a shot off a corner from Caitlyn Baehr.
Despite several chances from both team’s offenses in the final 15 minutes of regulation and the next 19 minutes of overtime play, neither team could find the back of the cage. Brusco scored her goal off a pass from Gladstein, who drew Barker out of the goal with a shot that deflected to Barker to lead to the game-winning score.
Gado said Brusco, who started playing field hockey as a freshman, displayed her progression as a player in the win.
“Kayla has come so far in the years that she has played,” Gado said of Brusco, who is also a lacrosse player. “Kayla is normally just a player who will push the ball, but then within the last month or so I’ve seen her drive the ball. She’s hungry and aggressive and she doesn’t let up.”
Brusco said the win wouldn’t have been possible without the play of Marriotts Ridge’s stout defense. Goalie Grace Tolle tallied 12 saves in the win.
“I think our defense played amazing,” Brusco said. “That helped us a lot, because (Glenelg) does have strong shooters.”
Marriotts Ridge 2, Glenelg 1 2OT
Goals: MR — Kayla Brusco 2; G — Sarah Kang.
Assists: MR — Emma Gladstein; G — Caitlyn Baehr.
Saves: MR — Grace Tolle 12; G — Rachel Barker 15.