Right before Sparrows Point and Perry Hall went to penalty kicks to decide the Baltimore County girls soccer championship on Tuesday, Pointers coach Joe Lambert told his senior goalie, Madison Anthony, he needed one save from her.
She did even better.
After getting that one big save in the shootout's 11th round, Anthony found herself in the precarious spot of having to take one. After she hit a low shot a little to the right that just got past Perry Hall goalie Ally Small, the ball slowly rolling over the goal line, the celebration was on for the No. 2 Pointers, who claimed their second straight county crown.
The score was tied at 1-1 through 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods before an epic penalty kick shootout followed with Sparrows Point winning by a 10-9 margin over the No. 12 Gators at Franklin.
The shootout was tied at 4-4 after the first five rounds and then each team made five in a row to make it 9-9 after all the field players had taken their turns.
The goalies then had their rare chance to shoot with Small placing a shot to the left corner that Anthony made a diving save on. Anthony, who has played in goal since she was 5 years old and had never taken a penalty kick, got just enough on her shot to send the Pointers home a winner.
"When the referee said I was next I was kind of scared," she said. "It was very stressful, but the fact my team had made all our shots but one pumped me up and I made the last one to put the cherry on top. I will never forget the night we became back-to-back county champions."
Sparrows Point, which has won the past two Class 1A state championships, improves to 12-0 on the season and has won 26 straight dating to last season.
It wasn't easy.
After beating Perry Hall (9-5) comfortably early in the regular season by a 3-1 count on Sept. 17, the Gators showed they made up ground.
Senior Chloe Wynn gave them a 1-0 lead midway through the first half when she tapped home a rebound on a corner kick. It wasn't until midway through the second half that the Pointers were able to break through offensively, when All-Metro senior Jamie Shiflett tied the game on an assist from Lindsea Webb.
After Sparrows Point couldn't convert on two quality scoring chances in the 20 minutes of overtime, the title came down to penalty kicks and both teams showed poise in finishing.
After missing on their opening try, the Gators made nine in a row. The Pointers' only miss in 11 rounds came on their second attempt.
The intensity of the 100 minutes of play in addition to the pressure-packed penalty kicks should benefit both teams as they move on to the region playoffs.
Perry Hall, which had won six straight county games to reach the title game, will open against visiting Dulaney in Class 4A North play on Nov. 3, while Sparrows Point hosts Loch Raven in Class 1A South play on Nov. 6.
"It's good," Lambert said. "This will definitely prepared us for playoffs. You never want to go to penalty kicks, but it helps us for the nerves next time if it comes down to it."