The Patterson Mill girls soccer team, close so many times before in a bid to bring home the program’s first Class 1A state championship, was not to be denied in 2019.
That was evident from the start in Thursday’s title game against Loch Raven, the Huskies taking charge with a relentless push forward.
And then, on their sixth corner kick already earned by the midway point of the first half, the reward came.
Junior defender Madison Dawson, falling to the ground but staying persistent, finished a chance on a ball served in from Riley Brown.
The goal, coming in the 19th minute, was all Patterson Mill would need, as it continued to keep hold of the game on its way to a 1-0 win over the Raiders at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex.
After three straight title-game losses to Sparrows Point, which won six straight 1A titles before moving up to the 2A ranks this year, and then a semifinal loss to Smithsburg last season, the Huskies (8-11) were finally the ones to be all smiles while getting the biggest plaque at season’s end.
“It’s absolutely unbelievable,” said senior defender and captain Evie Wysong, a four-year varsity player.
“Honestly, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it — I was just in awe. It’s so unbelievable because we’ve been here so many times now and it’s just never come together until this year. And I didn’t think this would be the year that it did.”
The Huskies played a rigorous regular-season schedule that had them 3-11 going into the playoffs, but it made them better and it showed.
After avenging last year’s loss to Smitsburg with a 1-0 win over the Leopards in last week’s semifinal round, they came out focused and on point Thursday.
They earned their first corner kick in the opening minutes and had a near miss in the 17th minute when Ava Wheeler was just wide on a shot from 14 yards.
Minutes later, Brown sent her corner kick right to the middle and the ball eventually found its way back to the near post. Dawson pounced, making her second goal of the season her biggest of her career.
“I was going try to head it off the corner at first, but it went over me and I was still standing there and I saw it coming back toward me, so I decided to slide and hope my body would hit it somewhere and it did,” she said. “It feels so good to finally win it.”
The Huskies protected the advantage with the same persistent play while withstanding a better second half from the Raiders, who overcame the early jitters to stay in the game. Junior Haley Gordon hit a shot from 20-plus yards that Huskies goalie McKenzie Milstead dived to her right to turn away for her only save with 23 minutes to play.
In the closing minutes, Julie Rose made a run with the ball to get inside the penalty area on the right side, but Wysong was there to disrupt the opportunity.
In finishing the season with an 8-11 mark, the Raiders played their best ball in the playoffs as well — reaching the title game by outscoring four opponents 15-2.
“It’s definitely a tough loss — any loss like that is hard,” said Rose. “But I’m really proud of this team fighting to get to this point. We never made it this far in any of my [first three] high schools and I’m just so proud of the team.”
Irony came with Patterson Mill’s long-awaited breakthrough in the fact it came against Loch Raven.
Prior, Huskies coach Mike Parker led Loch Raven to three state titles (1999, 2001, 2003) while Raiders current coach Anthony Menegatti served as his assistant. Menegatti then took over for Parker in 2009 and guided the Raiders to the last of their six state titles that year.
“The whole time I was at Loch Raven we were together,” Parker said. “So this was the first time we played. … It was really nice to see and get good luck wishes from all the Patterson Mill alum but also all the Loch Raven alum. Knowing Anthony for as long as I have and knowing what a great coach he is was pretty special. That was a good win.”