When the final horn sounded. Loch Raven's Meghan Keeny and Middletown's Lacey Gawler both dropped to the turf, drained, in front of their respective goals.
Through 80 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime, the two sweeper backs helped ward off every challenge as Loch Raven and Middletown played to a 0-0 tie in the Class 2A girls soccer state final at UMBC yesterday.
The tie gives the No. 11 Raiders (14-4-2) their third state title since 1993. Middletown (17-1-2), which lost to Centennial in the state final last season, earns its first title since 1990. For Loch Raven, the tie also helps erase the memory of last year's 1-0 loss to Middletown in the state semifinals, when the Knights scored with seven seconds left.
"I'm glad it ended the way it did," Loch Raven coach Mike Parker said "That was a hard-fought game"
Middletown had outscored its opponents 91-7 this year, and Loch Raven became the first team this season to hold the Knights scoreless. The Raiders did so with a freshman, fullback Laurie Goon, drawing one of the toughest defensive assignments.
Goon spent much of the match marking high-powered Middletown forward Tyler Caudle (26 goals).
Parker said he didn't plan on having Goon mark Caudle, but he didn't shy away from it either.
"I knew I was probably going to have to mark her, and I knew she was really fast," Goon said. "But I felt confident because I knew Meghan Keeny would give me good support if ever needed it."
Indeed, the Middletown forward was limited to just a couple of quality scoring chances.
Early in the second half, Caudle took a long pass from Katie Chakola and appeared to be a half-step from a breakaway, but Keeny drifted over and broke up the play, clearing the ball to toward the sideline.
Loch Raven goalie Molly Rogers finish with 12 saves, including three in overtime, but most were routine The Knights outshot Loch Raven, 23-7.
"A couple times I got scared that they were going to score," Keeny said, "but every time it seemed we got a foot on the ball and got it out somehow.
Loch Raven had its share of scoring chances, too, occasionally threatening a Middletown defense that entered the championship with 13 shutouts, including eight in a row at one point.
In the first five minutes of the match, Loch Raven forward Christine Hild fired a shot from 12 yards out that sailed high.
The Raiders' best scoring chance came midway through the first overtime Gina Ruocco (13 goals) took a crossing pass in the penalty area, but she was closely marked by Katie Bridges and her shot trickled wide of the right post.
The win left both teams content to share the title, upstart Loch Raven perhaps more so than Middletown.
"I'm glad we're sharing the championship with a good team," Keeny said. "I feel like we both deserve it. I know we deserve it."
* Gleneig 3, Wllliamsport 2: The Gladiators, who won their second state title in three years, got goals from Ashley Hall, Lyndsay Lewis, and Katie Kirley to accomplish the feat.
"I thought both teams played well," said Gladiators coach Mike Williams. "They have done a heck of a job with their program, and we were just one goal better today."
Yesterday's game was the second straight trip to the state championship for Williamsport, and the second straight loss to a Howard County team. The Wildcats, who lost to Hammond last year, had outscored their opponents 34-1 in both the regional and state tournaments entering the game.
Hall and Kirley connected on Glenelg's second and third goals, helping the Gladiators build a 3-1 lead.
Williamsport scored the final goal on a restart, but the Glenelg defense held up.