Since starting the season 2-0 in out of conference play, Hammond was hit with injuries and stumbled through the start of its county schedule. But on Tuesday, backed by a standout performance from senior goalkeeper Vicki Howard, the Golden Bears grinded out a 1-0 victory over visiting Long Reach and earned their first county win of the season.
“As a team we’ve been dealing with injuries over and over and it’s always been next man up, next man up. We had three starters again out today. They’ve kind of built this up where they know we’re in a tough situation, but we just have to keep going,” said Hammond coach Chris Reagle. “We talked all week about getting the ball rolling. We’ve been so close and let’s start getting over the hump. And in a game like this, you know they’re going to be tough, you know they’re going to be athletic, you know Coach [Sam] Haddad is going to have his team ready to play. It’s a good, solid win. We went in all week saying we got to start somewhere, so let’s get it started now.”
The Lightning put the pressure on the Golden Bears early and often. They tallied 11 shots within the first 40 minutes of play, while also earning a corner and three free kicks in Hammond’s defensive zone.
Long Reach sent several long-ranged shots at Howard early, but its best chance of the half came with about eight minutes left before the break, as Kaitlyn Carino placed a great ball inside the six-yard box for teammate Lyric Swann. Swann found herself one-on-one with Howard, but Howard held her ground a made a fantastic point-blank save, diving to her left to prevent the shot from heading in.
“I’m running out of adjectives to describe Vicki,” Reagle said. “She is so good. Her reflexes are so quick. She is always in the right position, you look over there’s the shot, but she is already there. She is an absolute rock in the back and it’s almost like we take chances because every one knows she’s back there, which I’m sure she doesn’t appreciate. But at the same time she’s so good and we rely on her so much.”
The Lightning out-shot the Golden Bears, 11-1 in the first half and 19-7 overall in the game.
Most of Hammond’s second-half opportunities resulted early on in the period, but its first dangerous chance came with about 18 minutes remaining in the half. Long Reach played the ball back to goalie Riley Holmes, who tried one-timing her clear away from the area, but her attempt fell short and landed at the feet of Dani Abel who immediately went the other way for the breakaway. But Holmes got in front of Abel’s shot, twice, and diffused the pressure.
“Last week we lost to Atholton, 1-0, we lost to Howard, 1-0, we lost to Glenelg, 2-1 – they’re used to tight games,” Reagle said. “And a part of our philosophy is we’re going to play defense and we’re going to counter attack. We had some great chances and their goalie made some big saves, and on the other end they put on a lot of pressure and Vicki made a ton of good saves. It was kind of back-to-back and I thought the girls just kind of hung tough.”
Long Reach out-possessed the Golden Bears throughout the game and in the second half it created numerous chances in its offensive third. The Lightning earned six more free kicks on Hammond’s defensive half, four of which came inside about 30-yards out, and also had a another corner kick as well. Although the Lightning’s Jessie Lee and Julia Bonner were putting good balls into the box, the Lightning struggled to get on the other end, with Howard scooping up the loose balls played in.
“Obviously we need to work on it a little bit more,” said Long Reach coach Sam Haddad. “We sometimes end of watching instead of attacking the ball out of the air, so we just need to work on that a little better because we can win on those. I think last year we scored a lot of our goals on set pieces, but this year we’re not.”
Howard came up with another point-blank save midway through the half, preserving the scoreless tie. Gabriela Cabrera carried the ball in to the box and around the edge of the six, sent a left footed strike heading toward the far corner of the goal. But once again, Howard came up huge, tracked the shot, dove and made the save.
“There’s obviously more pressure as the game goes on. When it was 0-0 – we went in to like eight games last year in overtime and I was really motivated,” Howard said. “I really didn’t want to lose in the last couple minutes and I know every one else was pushing and pushing. I wanted to do it for my team, so that if anything happened I didn’t let them down.”
Hammond did not earn a single corner in the half until the final minute of regulation. Senior Gabi Abel stepped up and swung a short kick that hit off the near post and ricocheted back out in the middle of the box. Senior Katie Lastova found the loose ball and one-timed a shot back toward the far corner of the net, which hit the same post once again, but this time the deflection found the back of goal for the score.
“It’s just one of those balls where it keeps bouncing around, if someone could just get something on it – I think Katie’s hit off the post and went in too. And again, you hope the girls are ready when the moment steps up,” Reagle said. “Gabi playing a great ball, and Katie playing a great ball, in that moment you hope they’re ready for it. Both those girls are seniors and have been on varsity for four years and luckily Katie was able to put one in.”
Howard finished an outstanding night with 16 saves and helped Hammond (1-4 county, 3-4 overall) break a four-game losing streak.
“This game was extremely important. I think it meant a lot that we won at the tournament and out of county games and stuff. I think we all felt discouraged that we couldn’t pull out a win in the other in county games, but we all really wanted one,” Howard said. “We wanted to prove we can win one in county or out of county and I think we did that and it was great.”
As for the Lightning (0-3-2, 0-3-3), it has been a frustrating season. They too have struggled through injuries early and have yet to clinch their first victory of the year. But they have improved their play on the field with each match and despite the loss, Haddad said he was happy with the way his team played.
“I just told them to keep their heads high. They’re playing good soccer and eventually the gods of soccer will look down on us and reward us for our hard work. But I’m proud of them. I’m proud of the way they played. They’re playing the right way,” he said. “Today we had more shots than I think any other game. I thought we played our best game today and we just last minute, on a counter, on a set play, but that happens in the game of soccer. I just want to make sure the girls stay motivated and just keep playing and we got a long season ahead of us.”
Long Reach and Hammond are back in action Friday, as the Lightning will try and clinch its first win against Wilde Lake and the Golden Bears will try and make it two in a row at Centennial. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m.
“I think once we get that one win in, it’s going to turn around for us,” Haddad added. “The biggest job is to keep these girls motivated and to keep them believing in the system, because as you saw, they’re playing really, really nice soccer and a lot of these girls are not full time experience soccer players. I’m demanded a lot of them. I’m pushing them hard, but they’re responding really well, so I’m proud of that.”
Hammond (1-4 county, 3-4 overall) 1, Long Reach (0-3-2 county, 0-3-3 overall) 0 (Tuesday, Sept. 26)
Goals: Ha – Lastova.
Saves: Ha – Howard 16; LR – Holmes 6.
Around the league:
Centennial (2-2-1 county, 5-2-1 overall) 1, Marriotts Ridge (2-1-2 county, 2-3-3 overall) 1 (2OT) (Tuesday, Sept. 26)
The Eagles and Mustangs battled through 100 minutes Tuesday, resulting in the 1-1 tie.
Centennial nearly took the lead early in the first half, as Ashley Molz sent as well-struck shot on frame, but her attempt hit off the cross ball. Marriotts Ridge then turned around and netted the game’s first goal with about 24 minutes remaining before the break. It was the first shot of the game for the Mustangs and they made it count.
Off a free kick, the Mustangs sent a long ball in to the box, forcing the Eagles goalkeeper Courtney Mcvicker to come out and catch the lofted pass in. But Mcvicker was met at the same time as Marriotts Ridge’s Victoria Hensh and a Centennial defender. Mcvicker could not corral the 50-50 ball, giving Hensh the opportunity to knock in the opening score.
But the Eagles responded in the second half with a goal by Mcvicker who was brought on to the field, with Ashley Bilger stepping in at keeper.
Mcvicker found herself one-v-one with Marriotts Ridge goalie Emma Meininger, and took advantage of the opportunity. Meininger got her hands on the shot, but could not make the save, as Mcvicker tied the game up with about 20 minutes left in regulation.
Centennial had numerous chances down the stretch and even saw three one-v-one situations against Meininger, but the junior goalie came up huge for her team and preserved the tie.
In the last 20 seconds of the second overtime, the Eagles made one final push and sent a nicely driven ball into the box, but could not finish around the six.
“Must give lots of credit to [Meininger], “ said Centennial coach Steve Baxter. “She made three very nice diving saves. Those three plays alone could have been three goals, one of which came in the first overtime.”
The Eagles are back on the field Friday, as they host Hammond for a 7 p.m. matchup. The Mustangs resume play Thursday, as they host Mt. Hebron at 5:30 p.m.
Goals: C – Mcvicker; MR – Hensh.
Assists: MR – Lee.
Saves: C – Mcvicker 2, Bilger 1; MR – Meininger 13.
Halftime: 1-0, Marriotts Ridge.
Reservoir (4-1-1 county, 5-1-1 overall) 3, Glenelg (2-1-2 county, 4-1-2 overall) 0 (Tuesday, Sept. 26)
The Gators handed the Gladiators their first loss of the season Tuesday, as they came away with the, 3-0 victory.
The game started slow on both sides, with Glenelg and Reservoir having trouble connecting on passes and creating opportunities. But after the first 15 minutes, the Gators started establishing possession and putting dangerous balls toward goal.
Reservoir finally got on the board with 18 minutes remaining before the half, as Leah Simmons sent a beautiful free kick on frame to give her team the, 1-0 lead.
“I thought we came out a little bit slow tonight, but my seniors really implored the girls to get going and we did,” said Gators coach Phil Ranker. “While our passing and crispness was not our best, we challenged and played hard the whole game.”
Reservoir pressed from the remainder of the half, but the Gladiators Alyssa Henderson played solid in net and came up with multiple great saves to keep the deficit as minimal as possible.
The Gators continued dominating play in the second half and tallied their second goal just eight minutes in to the second half. Reservoir moved the ball up the right side, then played back to Blair Vant Hoff in the middle who sent a perfect leading ball to Kylie Toler streaking down the left flank. Toler beat one defender and then buried her shot, giving her team the two-goal cushion.
Madi Pepe ended the day with the Gators final goal, coming with about 18 minutes left in the game.
Kate Hyde got behind the Glenelg defense and then laid the ball back to Pepe who knocked her shot in to the side netting.
Juli Hancock earned the shutout for the Gators, picking up three saves, while Emily Rowell collected two stops in relief. Henderson finished with five saves in the outing, with Courtney Renehan finishing out the game and registering two saves for the Gladiators.
“Anytime you can get an away win in the county it is nice for sure,” Ranker added. “I know Glenelg is dealing with a ton of injuries to important player right now, but even still, you can just tell they ware well coached and will not back down to any team this year. I am really impressed with some of their young midfield players. I am sure coach [Andrew] Shearer is excited to see how good they become.”
Reservoir and Glenelg are back on the field Thursday, with the Gladiators visiting Atholton and the Gators hosting River Hill. Both games are scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Goals: Re – Simmons, Toler, Pepe.
Assists: Re –Vant Hoff, Hyde.
Saves: Re –Hancock 3, Rowell 2; G – Henderson 5, Renehan 2.
Halftime: 1-0, Reservoir.
Howard (3-1-2 county, 4-2-2 overall) 0, Wilde Lake (1-3-1 county, 1-4-1 overall) 0 (2OT) (Tuesday, Sept. 26)
It was a defensive battle between the Wildecats and Lions Tuesday that showcased some of the best young talent in net.
Sophomores Mya McConnell and Jenna Hutchison played tremendously for their teams, as McConnell finished with 11 saves for Howard and registered her fourth shutout of the year, while Hutchison ended the outing with an astounding 23 saves.
“Jenna continued to be fearless in goal tonight,” said Wildecats coach Megan Shea. “She really owned the box and came up with some tough big saves for us.”
Wilde Lake has played in four consecutive overtime games, and ended a three-game losing streak with the draw.
The Wildecats are back on the field Friday, as they host Long Reach in a 7 p.m. matchup. The Lions resume play Thursday, as they take on Oakland Mills at 5:30 p.m.
Saves: Ho – McConnell 11; WL – Hutchison 23.
Atholton (4-0 county, 6-1 overall) 3, Mt. Hebron (2-2 county, 4-3 overall) 0 (Tuesday, Sept. 26)
River Hill (3-1-1 county, 5-2-1 overall) 7, Oakland Mills (0-5 county, 0-8 overall) 0 (Tuesday, Sept. 26)
Garrison Forest (2-4 IAAM B, 3-5 overall) 2, Glenelg Country (3-2 IAAM B, 3-2 overall) 1 (Tuesday, Sept. 26)
Goals: GCS – Marshall.
Assists: GCS – Chun.
Saves: GCS – Ahearn 5.
St. Timothy’s (2-3 IAAM C, 2-3 overall) 5, Chapelgate (1-3 IAAM C, 1-7 overall) 0 (Tuesday, Sept. 26)