Huntingtown’s Mia Isaac, having watched a looping Atholton shot glance off the crossbar on the other end minutes earlier, didn’t know what to expect when the ball left her foot.
With the 3A state semifinal match-up against the Raiders still tied 0-0 midway through the second half, she said her focus was just on putting shots on goal. As it turned out, however, that attempt with 23:10 left in regulation couldn’t have been placed any better.
Isaac’s shot from the right side sailed over Atholton goalie Bryce Bathras and just under the crossbar, providing the lone goal in a 1-0 Huntingtown victory at Linganore High School on Saturday evening.
“When I hit it, I had no idea if it was going in but at that point I just wanted to keep putting pressure on their keeper … keep tiring her out. Both teams had chances but hadn’t scored, so it felt like it was going to be whoever scored first,” Isaac said. “Seeing it go in, though, was such a surreal moment. It felt like we were in it to win it at that point.”
Huntingtown advances to play Linganore in the 3A state championship game next week at Loyola University. The Hurricanes will be trying to win a state title for the first time since 2011.
Coach Charlie Raphael said he was pleased with his girls’ ability to stay composed and continue winning possession as the game progressed, eventually leading to the deciding score.
“I think we’ve matured and we did a great job of keeping possession, which made it difficult on the them because they are very dynamic with the ball,” Raphael said. “The longer we were able to keep the ball, the more we limited their chances, the better off we were going to be. And, that’s what it came down to, our possession led to the one goal we needed to win.”
On the other side, Atholton saw its season come to an end after making it to the state semifinals for only the second time in program history. While it was a tough way to go out, Raiders’ coach Stephanie Stoutenborough said she couldn’t have asked more from this team.
“I honestly think that we played a great game, it was literally back and forth the whole 80 minutes,” she said. “It was definitely a little more physical than we like, we like to keep the ball on the ground and knock it around and aren’t really used to having that pressure on our back the entire game. But it’s something we had to get used to and we still had our chances. We weren’t lucky enough to put one in and they did.”
Most of the first half was played in the midfield, with each team breaking through for a couple shots. But it was in the second half that things really picked up.
Atholton’s Adrienne Vaughn ended up getting the game’s first great opportunity with roughly 26 minutes left in regulation. Taking a feed from Victoria Huxtable, Vaughn fired a shot from the left side that ended up ricocheting off the cross bar and over the goal.
With the game still scoreless, that left the door open for Isaac to be the hero.
She nearly added another goal with 14 minutes left in regulation, but this time Bathras delivered a big save in a one-on-one situation to keep it a one-goal game.
Atholton pushed until the final whistle, even getting a shot on goal in the closing seconds, but ultimately was unable to find the net.
Isaac said it was a big win for the team, especially after making it to the state semifinals two years ago and falling short.
“It’s awesome because we were here on this field two years ago and lost to Linganore and it was just heartbreaking,” she said. “Now that we got here again and we have made it to the finals, we really just want to finish it off.”