Wilde Lake keeper Hannah Lowry stared down Chesapeake freshman Ella Shannon, who would try for the sixth penalty kick of the shootout.
Neither team had stopped a shot yet. The first goalie to make a save would, at this rate, save their team’s season.
Lowry let the Cougars midfielder sneak by her before.
She wouldn’t do it again.
Lowry clipped Shannon’s shot before it, too, could, hit the back of the net — giving the Wildecats the edge they needed to win the Class 3A state semifinal in penalty kicks, defeating Chesapeake 1-1 (4-3).
Highlights from the penalty kick shootout between Wilde Lake and Chesapeake in the 3A state semifinals on Nov. 9, which the Wildecats won 5-3.
Wilde Lake’s Aicha Wilson scored the go-ahead goal in the first half, while Jillian Ingram, Ashlyn Bonner, Wilson, Leah Williams and Angie Geralis connected on their penalty kicks to ensure the Wildecats’ (13-4-1) victory.
As the Wildecats practiced penalty kicks in preparation for the playoffs, coach Megan Shea approached her young keeper to make sure she wasn’t too anxious about the possibility.
After all, Lowry was only a sophomore, and a first-year varsity player at that.
Wilde Lake also had a bitter history with penalty kicks, falling via shootout in the 2015 state final.
But Lowry said to her, at the time: “Honestly, I don’t feel that much pressure. The pressure’s on the shooter. I know whatever I can do will be a bonus.”
“She has so much trust in her five shooters,” Shea said.
Though Shannon was the only Chesapeake player to miss a shot, she was the primary reason the Cougars even had extra time to play − netting the equalizer in the second half.
“She’s got a tremendous career ahead of her,” Cougars coach Kevin Keeter said. “I hate to see what happened to them tonight, on the PK, but she’s a phenomenal player. She’ll be a leader for us over the next three years.”
The Cougars (13-4-2) had battled impossibly difficult teams all season to reach this point, which, at the end of the day, is why Keeter didn’t mourn the end of his team’s season too heavily.
“We played a tough 4A schedule, with Broadneck, Severna Park and South River. So we were ready to come to these kind of games at the end of the season,” Keeter said. “I’d expected a few losses, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.”
After an early show of strength, Chesapeake struggled to string together quality passes through a muggy Wilde Lake defense.
Senior Ashley Chew and her 22 goals on the fall typically flourishes from the outside midfield, which Wilde Lake apparently knew. If the ball even moved within the same zip code as Chew, Wildecats backs swarmed her, making it impossible for the senior to set up or receive passes from her teammates.
Shea credited defender Olivia Lancaster, whose primary mark had been Chew.
“We knew coming in she would be a huge threat,” Shea said. “We put a lot of pressure on Olivia, that it was time for her to stand up and absorb some of that. She did incredible.”
But down on the other side of the pitch, Wilde Lake’s duo of Gia Johnson and Wilson were putting their plans in motion. Though the Cougars defense, led by junior defender Amy Dolan and her highlighter cleats, snuffed early waves of Wildecats attacks, Wilson remained sharp.
After freshman Grace Dunbar, who’d played her own piece in several Wilde Lake set-ups already, saw her shot blocked off Chesapeake keeper Sarah Cuttler and away to the right side.
Wilson rushed in, collected the ball and flung it into the corner of the net.
Like Lancaster, Shea was pleased with the performance of midfielder Autumn Wright, whose task it had been to stop Shannon from getting too close to the ball as well and, in turn, helped the Wildecats get in the cage.
“The two of them just being able to hang with and mark some of their top players allowed some of our other girls to be creative today,” Shea said.
Without momentum on its side, Chesapeake’s back line held firm, refusing to allow any insurance. Cuttler prevented another score on a rocketed direct kick off Bonner, and another on a Wilde Lake corner.