When the Towson High girls’ soccer team lost four of its first six games this season, dreams of a deep postseason run weren’t on the radar.
But, the young Generals got their defense in order and won eight of the next nine games, including seven in a row and a Class 3A North Region championship.
The Generals stirring march into the postseason finally ended on Saturday, Nov. 10, when they fell in the Class 3A state semifinals to Northern, of Calvert County.
Northern sophomore Rachel Deresky had two goals and an assist to lead the Patriots (15-2-1) to a 3-1 victory over the Generals (10-6) on a frigid night at Linganore High.
Deresky currently has 46 goals this season.
“They had an incredible striker,” said Towson coach Lauren Manley, whose squad had only allowed one goal during a seven-game winning streak prior to the loss to Northern.
Towson’s only score came from Emma Kirtz, late in the second half after they trailed 2-0.
Both teams had few shots in the first 30 minutes with Riley Hatman getting the best chance for the Generals.
Meanwhile, Deresky had a shot on goal, saved by junior goalie Sofie Sorteberg, and another dangerous run that ended with a shot off the side of the net.
Kirtz delivered a nice crossing pass, but nobody was there to finish it.
Finally, with 5:40 remaining in the half, Deresky got a pass from Abby Weyand and crammed it home.
Towson had shots on goal after that by Amelia Dinsmore and Kirtz and both were saved by Kaitlyn Parks.
While Towson had some strong midfield runs by Kirtz and Chiara Menegatti, Northern’s defense of center backs Taylor Tolson and Anna Blanco and wings Caroline Stansbury and Eliza McLane were stellar in the back.
“Our back four is pretty solid,” Northern coach John Battle said.
With just under 21 minutes remaining, Deresky beat the Towson defense to the end line and crossed it to Madi Neall and she scored to make it 2-0.
“Number two (Neall) has a ton of assists, but doesn’t score that much and tonight she finally got it,” said Battle, who wasn’t comfortable with the 2-0 score. “It’s the worst score in soccer.”
It turned into 2-1 after a lofted ball into the box by Towson’s Lillian Chranko created a scoring chance.
With Hartman lurking near goalie Parks, she punched it out of the box and Kirtz was there and put the ball over her head into the goal to cut the lead in half with 10:10 left in the game.
Less than five minutes later, Deresky converted a breakaway for a 3-1 lead.
Towson wasn’t done. A cross by Hartman was put on goal from five yards out by Chranko with 3:24 left, but Parks came up with her best save of the night and the Patriots rode out the victory.
Despite the loss, Towson’s second-year coach Manley praised her team’s deep run.
“No one expected this (going to state semifinals). We’ve been the underdogs all the way, but I’m just so proud of them, so proud of the way they’ve played and I know we will be back next year,” Hanley said. “I couldn’t ask for more. They left everything on the field.”
Towson had advanced to the state tournament’s final four after a goal by Aalivia Wainwright helped them defeat C. Milton Wright, 1-0, in the regional championship game.
The Generals also defeated Hereford and Fallston by the same 1-0 score during their winning streak.
“I think the girls just came together,” Hanley said. “We had a slow start, but once we figured out our defense and played hard pressure the whole team just came together. Once we beat certain teams like Fallston and Hereford, I think they finally realized they could win these big games.”