xml:space="preserve">

Perry Hall senior forward Erin Marcizewski jogged to the penalty line like it was just another day, instead of it being the Class 4A state championship game at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex.

Seconds later, she precisely found the lower left corner and just like that, the Gators successfully defended their state championship.

Advertisement

After 100 minutes of quality but scoreless soccer against No. 4 Severna Park, the No. 12 Gators claimed a 1-0 win with a 4-3 decision in penalty kicks.

Senior backs Aya Neal, Caroline Rosenthal and Caroline Warns all made good on the penalty kicks and, after two misses took the session to a sixth round, Marcizewski was the hero after a Falcons miss.

“The first two round of PK’s, I was so nervous — butterflies, shaking, really nervous," Marcizewski said of the decisive penalty kick. " And then it got up to my turn and I ran up, I heard all the stands — everything was crazy and wild and I was so nervous. The whistle blew and everything went silent — I didn’t hear a thing. I just looked at the ball, chose my corner and shot. I knew I had to keep my calm and put it in the back of the net.”

Perry Hall, which aside from the experienced back line fielded mostly a new lineup, closed the season with an 11-6 mark, becoming the first area team to win consecutive state titles in 4A since the MPSSAA started playing title games in all four classifications in 1998.

“That wasn’t an accident," said Perry Hall coach Matt Smoot on his senior leaders/defenders taking the first three penalty kicks. "Again it really comes down to the core of our group this year. They’re the ones that are barking at the other girls. I think our young central midfielders, wings and forwards are more offensive minded players [and they] have really held their own and picked it up this season. But in a game like this and in an atmosphere likes this, it doesn’t matter how well you’ve played in the regular season you have that time in, that senior leadership.”

Severna Park, which reached the state title game with a win in penalty kicks against Churchill, finished with a 15-3-2 mark.

Neither team’s defenses budged in 100 minutes of back and forth play.

The Falcons had the best chance at a breakthrough during regulation with the game’s only steady pressure midway through the second half.

With 23 minutes left, Lexi Richardson sent a ball through to forward Ella Raines, who dribbled once to get inside the penalty area to have Perry Hall goalie Brenna Ellenberger aggressively leave her goal line to smother the shot.

Five minutes later, Lauren Campbell got a firm shot off from 15 yards that was headed away by Warns.

It was apparent from the start that time and space would be limited in the offensive thirds as both teams marked tight and kept organized in back.

More than seven minutes elapsed before Severna Park’s Mackenzie Rice made a run on the right side to get inside the Gators’ penalty area — the first time for either side — but it was quickly disrupted when Warns took the ball away with a clean tackle.

The scoreless first half finished with a combined five shots reaching the goal. The Falcons earning two late corner kicks that proved the most dangerous opportunities — Lena McGlaughlin with a chance in front but unable to get good placement on the hurried shot.

The Falcons were excellent in the regular season, particularly at the defensive end, finishing with an 11-1-2 mark and 10 shutouts to reach the Anne Arundel County championship game.

Advertisement

“It’s been an unbelievable season for us," said Severna Park coach Rick Stimpson. "The girls have played incredibly well through every game including tonight. The one thing I said that we talked about in the locker room is at a time like this, the end of the season, you have to be good and you have to have a bit of luck. We were good, but we just didn’t have the luck we needed. I couldn’t have been more proud of the team as a whole they’ve been great all year.

After losing to South River, 1-0, for county bragging rights, they worked their way out of the demanding East region, highlighted by a 2-1 win over the same Seahawks before reaching the state title game with a 2-0 win over Churchill in last week’s state semifinal round.

They played in two scoreless ties during the regular season, played in three overtime games in reaching the playoffs, including the state semifinal win in the semifinal round. But fell admirably in a bid to win a second straight game in penalty kicks.

Saves: PH – Ellenberger 6; SP – Byrd 5. Half: 0-0

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement