Immediately after Marriotts Ridge’s win over Reservoir on Tuesday, the Mustangs thought they would need to beat Centennial on Thursday to win the girls soccer county championship.
A few minutes later, though, the Eagles lost to River Hill, which secured the county championship for Marriotts Ridge — the Mustangs’ first since 2010.
The Mustangs’ 1-0 double-overtime win over visiting Centennial on Senior Night, then, was just icing on the cake.
“I am so happy,” said Marriotts Ridge head coach Darius Qualls. “This is my second year here. Last year, this team went from third from the bottom (in 2017) to third place and then to first place this year. I am happy for the girls.”
Marriotts Ridge junior forward Jordyn Choe talks Mustangs girls soccer after the team's 1-0 win over Centennial on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.
Junior forward Jordyn Choe, who scored two goals in the win over Reservoir Tuesday, scored the game-winner a few minutes into the second overtime period. The goal brings Choe’s point total to a team-leading 18.
“We had an idea that we were already (county champions), but we really wanted to win this for our seniors,” Choe said. “It’s really exciting, but I’ve got to give a lot of credit to coach Qualls. We had a good coach my freshman year, too, but coach Qualls really brought in a new perspective and brought us together as a team.”
After a scoreless 90 minutes, Megan Wagner fired a shot early into the second overtime from 16 yards out that hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced straight down. The spin on the ball caused it to bounce away Centennial goalie Ashley Bilger, and Choe crashed the net and threw her head right at the ball. Despite colliding with Bilger, Choe found enough of the ball to head it into the back of the net.
“I think a lot of it is when you’re on a team you want to do your best for the team and have no regrets later,” Choe said about throwing her body in harm’s way on her goal.
“She’s played like that ever since I’ve known her,” Qualls said. “That’s how she gets her goals. She’s a true forward. We depend on her a lot, and she comes through every single time.”
The contest at Marriotts Ridge (8-1 Howard County, 10-2) started with a celebration of Marriotts Ridge’s six seniors. Qualls started senior Andrea Plano, who was a starter before she injured her knee that knocked her out for the season, and had the first pass go to her before subbing her out.
“That made her season. Andrea put a lot into this team,” Qualls said about giving Plano the opportunity to appear in one last high school game.
Both defenses were stout in the contest, with Marriotts Ridge goalie Kendall Bryan saving five shots and Centennial coach Ashley Bilger saving 12.
“She’s probably one of the best keepers in the league,” Qualls said of Bilger. “She’s fantastic.”
Centennial (5-3-1, 8-5-1), in fact, controlled the game for the first half and parts of the second half. Despite maintaining possession, the Eagles couldn’t find good scoring opportunities.
“We just struggled to get a good shot on goal,” said Centennial head coach Hank Hurren. “In the second half, (Marriotts Ridge) grew into the game and then we ran out of energy. They’re a bit deeper than we are, and they were able to take advantage of it.”
Hurren said his team will take the positives out of its two losses to end the season — both 1-0 defeats to the top two teams in the county (Marriotts Ridge and River Hill). However, he dislikes the overtime rules.
“The bloody overtime rules cost us,” Hurren said. “It’s an idiotic format. This wasn’t a cup; there shouldn’t be overtime. It should just be regular (soccer) — it’s a draw, and we both get a point. When you go to a cup or a knockout tournament, then you have overtime. They keep trying to make it American football. The bloody overtime cost us a point here. Not completely, obviously. Not putting the ball in the back of the net cost us, too. But that’s just the way it is.”
Both teams will look ahead to the state playoffs, which get seeded and begin next week.