Reservoir senior forward Stephanie Zaycer assisted on the game-winning goal by Payton Bouie in the 53rd minute and headed home an insurance goal with 14 minutes left to lead the No. 6 Gators to a 2-0 win over No. 13 Hereford in Saturday's Class 3A state semifinal against Hereford at CCBC-Essex.
The Gators (15-3-1) advance to their first state title game and will take on Tuscarora next week at UMBC. Reservoir defeated Tuscarora, 2-1, in a season-opening tournament in September.
After hitting the post and also having a point-blank shot turned aside by Hereford senior goalie Kelsey Wirtz (eight saves) in the scoreless first half, Zaycer's determined play took over in the second. She tracked down a ball near the right corner flag and sent a pass across to Bouie, who one-timed a right-footed shot into the far right corner from 14 yards. Zaycer later crashed the far post to head home the Gators' second goal off a cross sent in from Katherine Tuttle on the left.
"We definitely talked at halftime about needing to pick it up because we knew we would get one - we believe in ourselves," said Zaycer, whose first start came on Senior Day. "It feels amazing - words can't describe it. We had a lot of intensity."
The Gators controlled play throughout and now are one win away from the program's first state championship.
"Obviously, that would be wonderful," Reservoir coach Josh Sullivan said. "Ironically, [Tuscarora] was the first team we played this season in a tournament. ... It was a battle."
"I was happy with our play," said Hereford coach Nancy Ferguson, whose Bulls finished 14-3-1. "We had a couple of breakdowns on defense."
Goals: R-Bouie, Zaycer. Assists: R- Zaycer, Tuttle. Saves: H- Wirtz 8; R-Dearden 1. Half: 0-0.