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Early goal lifts Marriotts Ridge girls soccer over Mt. Hebron

Marriotts Ridge girls soccer sophomore Jordyn Choe has been in this position before. She’s outran opposing defenders several times this season, setting up 1-on-1 opportunities against the goalkeeper.

In many of these instances, though, Choe’s patience proved detrimental. She often waited too long to cut or shoot or pass, allowing goalies charge at her and knock the ball away.

But in Monday night’s 1-0 road win over Mt. Hebron, Choe altered her scoring tactics. After receiving a pass near the 40-yard line, Choe sprinted past the Vikings’ backline and towards goalkeeper Ainsley Sowers, who came off her line to challenge a potential shot. But instead of shooting, Choe deked Sowers with a sharp cut to the right before converting the game’s only score into the wide-open net.

“I was just really trying to keep myself composed,” Choe said of her 1-on-1 battle against the Sowers. “And I was just thinking about getting around the goalie to get an open shot.”

Choe’s strike occurred during what was a dominant opening 20 minutes for Marriotts Ridge (2-2-0 county, 5-3-0 overall). The Mustangs’ first shot came in the third minute courtesy of Alyssa Wagner, who sprayed her attempt wide of goal. Three minutes later, senior Victoria Hensh launched an attempt high and out of play.

And even after Choe put the Mustangs ahead in the ninth minute, they continued to push forward and create dangerous looks at goal. At one point, Wagner possessed the ball with an empty net in front of her but pushed the shot wide.

Mt. Hebron coach Tim Deppen is not exactly sure what led to the Vikings’ lethargic start, especially since he thought his group looked energized and physically prepared during pregame warmups. However, Deppen and his players ensured that sluggishness would not accompany them after the break.

In the second half, Mt. Hebron began stringing together passes to methodically advance into the attacking third. And while its chances to put shots on target were limited early in the period, their constant pressure seemed to wear down the Mustangs, so much so that in the final 25 minutes, the Vikings looked as though they would surely net the equalizer.

There were two scoring chances in the 63rd minute and two more shots in the 67th, one of which senior forward Allie Ritter nailed off the top crossbar. There was also a deep free kick from junior midfielder Lexi Croft that sailed just wide to the left. When the Vikings did put shots on goal, Tyler Colburn (seven saves) swallowed them up.

In the end the Vikings came out empty, marking the third straight game they have been shutout.

“It’s easy for me to stand on the sidelines and say the conditions were crappy, the ball was slipping all over the place and the footing might not be great,” Deppen said. “We do a lot of finishing drills in practices, so I don’t think the training has anything to do with it, but it’s just we weren’t mentally ready, and with the conditions, it was easy for us to lose focus.”

As for Marriotts Ridge, first-year coach Darius Qualls was pleased how his team pressed for a goal early and then tightened up its defense in the second half. It’s a performance the Mustangs can surely build on entering the heart of the county slate.

“Both teams were very good,” Qualls said. “Tactically, they made adjustments in the beginning, the middle and towards the end. Both defenses were both very, very organized, and their attack was very, very excellent.”

Marriotts Ridge (2-2-0, 5-3-0) — 1, Mt. Hebron (1-3-1, 1-3-1) — 0

Goals: MR — Jordyn Choe.

Saves: MR — Tyler Colburn 7; MH — Ainsley Sowers 3.

Halftime: 1-0, MR

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