With both C. Milton Wright and Quince Orchard unwilling to give ground on defense, the deciding factor in last night's Class 4A girls soccer championship was which team had the poise to put home penalty kicks.
Quince Orchard proved one better. With goals from Kayla Clarke, Emily D'Italia and the decider from Maureen McMeekin, the Cougars from Montgomery County came away with the state title. It's the first time the Maryland public schools have gone to penalty kicks to decide a state crown. In years past, the two teams would be declared co-champions after 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods.
After a highly competitive game filled with tight marking and rare scoring chances ended in a scoreless tie after 100 minutes, C. Milton Wright had the early advantage in the penalty kicks when Jennifer Warner and Molly Stryker converted their chances and Mustangs goalie Allison Kuchar made a diving save on Julia Starnes' attempt. But Cougars goalie Amanda Whitney turned back the Mustangs' last two chances while D'Italia and McMeekin found the corners.
C. Milton Wright, which captured its only state crown in 2005, finished its season 13-5-1, capturing the North region before defeating Severna Park to reach the title game. It is the second state crown for Quince Orchard, which finished the season with a 17-2 mark.
Quince Orchard was able to string together more passes in the first 40 minutes, but was unable to break through, with Stryker quick to the ball and strong on clears at her sweeper position. The Mustangs had the best chance of the half five minutes in when senior Lyndsie Ludwig had a shot from 18 yards that was turned away by Whitney.
The Cougars continued to attack in the second half. With 29 minutes left, midfielder Clarke sent a corner kick in front that was headed by Sarah Moran and D'Italia before Kuchar punched it out.