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No. 3 South River wins Class 4A girls soccer title in shootout

No. 3 South River dictated play for long stretches against four-time defending champion Bethesda-Chevy Chase in Friday night's Class 4A state title game at UMBC.

Seahawks forward Kacie Longo managed to create several dangerous chances despite the constant, tight marking by the Barons. After Bethesda took the lead in the 60th minute, Longo broke loose from her defenders and scored the tying goal, her 27th of the season, with just under eight minutes remaining to send the game into overtime.

After the game remained deadlocked through the two, 10-minute overtimes, the game went to a best-of-five shootout. Madison Koenig, Rebekah Petty, Shelby Olender and Alyssa Hill each converted their penalty kicks for South River, which won the shootout, 4-2, and the program's third state championship and the first since 1997.

"I thought they were the more technical team, but we balanced that with aggression and heart," South River coach John Sis said. "Anything can happen in [penalty kicks] and we worked on them yesterday and the day before. We tried to put as much pressure on the players to emulate what they will see in the game. But as you know, there's no way to emulate what they had to go through today."

The first half was played mostly evenly, with each side creating several dangerous shots on goal. Neither side could capitalize as the game remained scoreless through the opening 40 minutes. South River goalie Emily Proctor made several big stops throughout the game and made a save in the shootout.

South River (17-2) continued to put together several effective attacks throughout the second half and consistently kept Bethesda in its own defensive third.

Bethesda (13-5) finally broke through when Alix Emden's shot from about 12 yards away banged off the cross bar and fell directly to Paula Germino-Watnick, who pushed the ball into the empty goal from just a few yards.

South River pushed more players forward, and the Seahawks were finally rewarded with 7:50 left in the game when Longo picked up a loose ball in the penalty area and found the corner of the goal.

"We were just playing as hard as we could," Longo said. "We always connect. We knew we were still in it."

The Seahawks kept up the pressure for the rest of regulation, but the score remained deadlocked. Bethesda had the better end of play in the overtimes but could not capitalize, forcing the shootout. Maia Emden and Denali Minnick scored for the Barons in the shootout.

"South River played phenomenally well," Bethesda coach Rob Kutz said. "They are great, athletic girls. It was a battle to the end. It was like a heavyweight fight. That made some shots in the PKs and I give them credit. It was a great high school game."

Girls Soccer

Class 4A state championship *at UMBC)

No. 3 South River 1, Bethesda-CC 1, (South River wins shootout, 4-2)

Goals: S-Longo ; B-Germino-Watnick

Assists: B-Emden

Saves: S-Proctor 5; B-White 4

Half: 0-0

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