Western clinched its seventh straight Baltimore City girls soccer championship yesterday in dramatic style, as Portia Wood scored with 1: 15 remaining to give the Doves a 3-2 victory over Poly.
For the second time this season, the Doves rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat their next-door neighbors. Wood also scored in the 45th minute, assisted by her sister, Jamaica Wood. She then assisted on Melinda McLaughlin's goal in the 58th minute.
"This is the biggest win for us, because it guarantees the city championship," said senior Faustina Dadson, who, along with the rest of the Doves, has never lost to Poly. "We've had a defense that's been great, an offense that's stayed together and teamwork. We've had problems, but we've kept it together."
The Doves (9-2) improved to 7-0 in the city league, and the Engineers (5-6) dropped to 4-4. Even had they lost, the Doves likely would have taken the city title anyway because every other city team has at least two league losses and the Doves' remaining game is with Southern, which has not won a league game all season.
For most of yesterday's game, however, it appeared Poly at least might make the Doves wait a little longer to celebrate.
With the wind at their backs, the Engineers dominated early, putting two goals on the board in the first 20 minutes. It didn't help the Doves to have the Wood sisters and defender Dana Furno on the bench for the first 15 minutes because they had missed Friday's practice.
Poly striker Rhiannon Feehly converted first on a two-on-one break in the 12th minute.
Eight minutes later, Stephanie Boyer completed a play that began when Doves goalie Commia Thompson dropped Kellie Rydock's shot off a restart from about 20 yards away. Tina Paglia shot the dropped ball off the crossbar, and Boyer scored off the rebound.
After the break, however, the Doves took control, outshooting Poly 13-1 in the second half.
McLaughlin, Dadson and the Wood sisters hammered at the Engineers almost the entire second half, and the Doves had four excellent chances to score in the 10 minutes before Wood's game winner. Only a terrific effort from Poly goalie Sherelle Hatcher kept the game close.
Hatcher, who finished with 10 saves, played an aggressive game, coming out to thwart several Doves attempts, but she made three saves on her goal line toward the end. The junior made point-blank stops against Portia Wood and Dadson, and she smothered another ball that came straight down after Dadson nailed it off the crossbar.
But taking so many shots, one of the Doves was bound to find the net, and Portia Wood did, reeling in a loose ball and firing from about 15 yards away to Hatcher's left barely beyond her reach.
"When the ball came, I knew it was coming the other way," said Hatcher, "and it just curved to the other side. You don't know whether to play right or left, because the wind was just bringing it."
Pub Date: 10/19/99