River Hill's Megan Buescher has the hardest throw-in of any girls soccer player in Howard County. And arguably the longest.
A 5-foot-11 freshman, Buescher begins her throw-ins halfway on the running track. After gaining speed, she reaches the sideline and launches the ball on a straight line. The ball comes fast and should come with a warning: head at your own risk.
Not so, said teammate Maria Masciantonio. "It doesn't hurt at all," she said.
Masciantonio should know. She's headed a number of Buescher's throws, including one Friday that landed in the goal for a 1-0 overtime victory at Mount Hebron.
The 5-foot-2 Masciantonio said the line-drive throws "actually make it easier. They're perfect. Every one comes right to your head, and it makes it easier to get it in [the goal]."
Buescher's throw-in is as effective as a corner kick. Just as Molly Sunderdick does for Oakland Mills with her high, arching throws, Buescher puts the ball deep in the box.
"When I throw, I just try to get it toward the keeper," said Buescher, a defender. "I don't look for any particular player."
Buescher has had a long throw-in since she started playing. Her secret?
"I'm double jointed in my arms," Buescher said. "I can go back further with my arms, and that gives me more strength to throw."
River Hill's victory clinched a tie for its third straight league title. Two years ago the Hawks finished 8-1 and won it outright. Last year, they beat Hammond and tied the Golden Bears for the title. A win Tuesday at Howard would give it another 8-1 record and the outright championship.
A footnote to River Hill's win over Mount Hebron: Before the Hawks took the field to start the overtime period, Kerry Brown told her teammates that the person who scored could drive her car. Coach Joan Kelso Smedley offered a little more incentive, offering the goal-scorer a chance to drive her week-old Ford Explorer.
Masciantonio, who has had her license for a month, said Smedley told her she could drive the sport utility vehicle tomorrow.
"If it's not raining," Masciantonio said.
Here are the county girls soccer standings with one game remaining: River Hill 7-1; Mount Hebron 6-2, Glenelg 5-3; Long Reach 4-3-1; Wilde Lake 4-4; Hammond 3-4-1; Oakland Mills 2-4-2; Howard 1-7; Atholton 0-8.
Long Reach's four county wins equal its total of the three previous years. The Lightning (6-5-1) has four wins and a tie in their past five games.
Three of Oakland Mills' last four games have gone into overtime. The Scorpions lost to Mount Hebron, 2-1, Oct. 12, and just completed back-to-back ties against Long Reach (1-1) and Hammond (2-2).
In last Friday's paper, the incorrect site of the playoff game between Long Reach and Wilde Lake was given. The match will be played at Wilde Lake.