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No. 4 Mt. Hebron girls soccer beats No. 14 River Hill, 1-0, in Class 3A final for first state title

In all 13 of its previous state championship game appearances, the River Hill girls soccer team left the field as champions — the first time in 1997 and most recently in 2018.

On Friday night, against Howard County rival Mt. Hebron, that changed in the Class 3A final.

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It was the Vikings, making their first state title game appearance, that were finally able to solve the longstanding River Hill championship puzzle to make their own history with a 1-0 win at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex.

At the end of this championship game, the Vikings were charging out to joyously greet their goalkeeper Emily Canseven, taking photos with the championship plaque.

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The Vikings (15-2) finished the season with 10 straight shutouts — a string that began with a 2-0 regular-season win over the Hawks on Oct. 7. In their 17 games under 20-year coach Tim Deppen, they surrendered four goals.

During their dominant defensive stretch, the Vikings grew more and more confident that one goal would be enough to bring home another win. On Friday, it fittingly came from their leading scorer, Sinclaire Green.

Late in the first half, with the ball in traffic deep inside the Hawks’ penalty area, sophomore midfielder Olivia Hoover was able to get a shot off from 6 yards that Green redirected into the net for her team-high 18th goal of the season.

“The initial thought is this is something the girls deserved,” said Deppen. “Defensively, we played all over the field shutting teams out — 14 shutouts in 17 games — and we were fairly confident we could come in and do it again against River Hill. We knew we just needed one goal...Here we are.”

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The Hawks didn’t make it easy in the second half. Senior midfielder Alyssa Barker hit a heavy left-footed shot from 22 yards that was just over the crossbar with 34 minutes left. Senior Vivian Yao had a shot cleared off the line with 26:25 to play.

Midway through, Madison Berge sent in a dangerous cross from the right side that went through the goal mouth before getting cleared.

Despite losing senior captain Ana Hoover to injury during the season, the Vikings defense — featuring left back Lauren Gustafson, center backs Kaitlyn Magdar and Ainsley WIlson and right back McKenna Bishop with defensive center midfielder Kate Hanks — played flawlessly as one in front of Canseven, who finished with two saves.

“As a defense, we knew each other so well. We work together like we’ve been playing together our whole lives even though it was only our first year together,” said Gustafson. “And so once we score, we go into a different gear. We know how to connect. ...We have security that we know our team is doing what we need to do. We know we have to step it up and we can do it.”

Mt. Hebron goalie Emily Canseven comes out to grab the ball during the 3A state final at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex on Friday.
Mt. Hebron goalie Emily Canseven comes out to grab the ball during the 3A state final at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex on Friday. (Israel Carunungan)

River Hill coach Brian Song, who led the Hawks to nine of the program’s 13 titles during his 18 years leading the team, was proud of how this year’s group matured to make another state title game appearance. Friday’s loss ended an eight-game winning streak.

“The effort was there — I felt it was going to be a one-goal game and give credit to Tim [Deppen]. Our girls, I think they played their hearts out, especially in the second half I think that’s the team I know how they’re capable of playing. It’s one of those games where their ball went in and ours didn’t,” he said.

Like the majority of the season, the Vikings’ backline stood its ground with the game on the line.

In the closing seconds, Duffy, who closed out a brilliant four-year career in the Hawks’ goal — raced in to take one final free kick from 30 yards that ended up wide. The Vikings erupted seconds later.

As a freshman, Duffy was in goal for the Hawks’ last championship.

“It’s definitely unfortunate we couldn’t win it again this year. I’m grateful to have experienced a win my freshman year — that was a great experience,” Duffy said. “But I’m really ultimately proud of this team because every single game we had to push to win. There wasn’t a game throughout the season that was not a battle for us ... so this team did amazing things that in the beginning of the season I didn’t think was possible for us. So that part has been an amazing experience that I’ll have forever.”

In their five postseason wins, the Vikings outscored their opponents by a 6-0 margin — including avenging their last loss of the season against previously unbeaten Marriotts Ridge, 1-0, to win the East region.

Goals: MH – Green. Assists: O. Hoover. Saves: RH – Duffy 3; MH – Canseven 2 Half: MH, 1-0

Mt. Hebron coach Tim Deppen raises the 3A girls soccer state championship trophy toward the stands after the Vikings defeated River Hill, 1-0, at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex on Friday.
Mt. Hebron coach Tim Deppen raises the 3A girls soccer state championship trophy toward the stands after the Vikings defeated River Hill, 1-0, at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex on Friday. (Israel Carunungan)
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