Going into Saturday’s Class 2A girls soccer state championship game, Glenelg sophomore forward Stephanie Lathrop had already made a major impact.
It turns out she saved her best for last in a tightly contested final against Hereford.
Lathrop scored her school-record 28th goal of the season to break the tie with 17:05 to play, and a strong defensive effort protected the advantage as the No. 9 Gladiators celebrated a 2-1 win over Hereford at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex.
Glenelg closed the season with a 15-2 mark to claim the program’s seventh state title and first since 2008.
Lathrop’s 28th goal of the season was her 81st career point — 37 goals and seven assists — tying her with 2004 graduate Meghan Haspert atop the program’s all-time list.
Pressuring a defender on the left side, Lathrop won the ball, took a few dribbles into the penalty area and aimed high at the near post with a left-footed shot from 14 yards.
“I took my space and I saw the near post was open, so I hit it with my left foot and it went in,” she said. “It’s a feeling you really can’t describe. In the moment you’re like cheering … you just can’t describe it — incredible.”
The Gladiators were coming off 100 minutes of scoreless play in last week’s semifinal against Eastern Tech, advancing on penalty kicks.
On Saturday, they finally broke through when Brianna Werner went high to the far post on a free kick from 25 yards for a 1-0 lead with 15:55 left in the first half. But the Bulls (13-5) got the game tied later in the half when senior Lauren Orner converted a penalty kick after a teammate was taken down in the penalty area.
After Lathrop snapped the tie, the Gladiators still had plenty of work left to do.
Hereford freshman Camryn Kauffman served a cross in from the left that Lily Moore headed just over the crossbar with 8:15 to play.
A couple minutes later, Kauffmann made a run down the right side and was able to dribble past Glenelg’s drawn out goalie Bella Buscher. But the touch Kauffman used to get past her was too far away, enabling a defender to clear the ball out of danger.
Glenelg second-year coach Vicente D’Antuono, who led the Gladiators to the Howard County tournament championship in last year’s condensed spring season, applauded his team’s consistent performance throughout this year’s campaign.
“The kids from Day One have put in a tremendous amount of effort, what they’ve been asked to do, how they’ve been asked to play and how they’ve been asked to work together as a unit, and it just really pays off,” he said.
After graduating 12 seniors, including the program’s all-time leading scorer, Payton Patrick, Hereford turned an expected rebuilding season into a state runner-up finish. With only three seniors starting Saturday, 10-year coach Brad Duvall sees the experience as a starting point to possibly bigger things ahead.
The Bulls, who captured their only state championship in 2000 and were making their fourth title game appearance, took a six-game winning streak into Saturday’s game.
“These kids just really gelled together and they’re the closest team I ever coached,” Duvall said. “They did a great job of improving their technical skills and improving their tactical awareness and just figuring out how they wanted to play the game. Our goal today, obviously, we wanted to win. That was our first goal, but one of our secondary goals — and I told them this — was to get everybody in the game.
“I said ‘I want all of you to experience this atmosphere, this venue, everything about this because the hope is we’re back again.’ There are no guarantees to that, obviously things happen, especially in soccer. But with so many returning players, that’s our goal and I wanted them all to get a feel, be on the field, experience this.”
Goals: H -- Orner; G – Werner, Lathrop Saves: H – Nieberlein 2, Janney 1; G – Buscher 4 Half: 1-1