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Manchester Valley girls soccer wins share of Carroll title with win over Liberty

Manchester Valley forward Lizze Colson didn't have time to worry about Liberty tying the score early in the second half of Tuesday's girls soccer game.

She was too busy finding an answer.

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The standout junior scored 30 seconds later and added another goal midway through the half as the No. 13 Mavericks took control to claim a well-earned, 4-1 win over the No. 14 Lions that also gave the 6-year-old program its first share of the Carroll County title.

Manchester Valley improved to 11-1-1 and ended its county slate with a 6-0-1 mark to finish as co-champions with Century, which defeated Francis Scott Key on Tuesday to also finish 6-0-1.

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Century, which had won the past two county titles outright, played Manchester Valley to a 3-3 tie on Sept. 29.

After Rayna Deltuva gave the Mavericks a 1-0 lead with 33 minutes left, Liberty was quick to respond with Nicole Starego tying the game seven minutes later. Colson, who now has 18 goals and six assists, didn't get down for a minute — promptly giving the Mavericks the lead back when she stole a Liberty clear and chipped a shot over Lions goalie Cassie Amdt.

"It was definitely nerve-racking, but I think we realized we really had to step it up and give it everything if we wanted to be county champs," said Colson, who also had the assist on Deltuva's opening goal. "I was thinking it was all or nothing right now. And when they came back, my heart got moving a little faster. But then we scored again and then we got up two, so we had some wiggle room."

When the final whistle blew, the Mavericks' celebration was cranked up high. Manchester Valley, the county's smallest public school, won Class 1A state titles in 2011 and 2012, but a county championship had not been accomplished despite some close calls. The past two seasons, the Mavericks earned ties against Century, but lost to another county opponent (Liberty defeated them last season), while the Knights were able to run the table on the rest of their county schedule.

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Not this time. The Mavericks were playing against a strong wind in the first half, but kept the game scoreless at the break. With the wind in their favor in the second half, they took charge over the Lions (8-3, 4-3).

The win capped a special day for Manchester Valley coach Joe Miller. At 3:45 p.m., he became a grandfather for the first time when his oldest daughter, Katie Johnson, gave birth to a healthy daughter, Beckett Lee. The second-half performance from the Mavericks was an ideal capper.

"We're co-champions. Every year, we got to the last game but things had to happen for us to be co-champions. This was the first time we were in control of our destiny," Miller said. "We'll take being a co-champ — it beats not being a co-champ."

The Mavericks got a strong performance in back from Colson's older sister, senior Stephanie Colson. Their younger sister, sophomore Beanie Colson, scored the team's final goal.

Liberty coach Callie Jo Harrison said it was the Mavericks' night. She expects her Lions to bounce back with one regular-season game left before the region playoffs.

"I was really happy to tie the game at 1-1 — it was an appropriate, immediate response. And then their answer back to make it 2-1 was really impressive and caught us off guard," she said. " They have a lot to celebrate being county champs and [Coach Miller] is a new grandfather so their heart was totally in it and that was very apparent. But the Liberty team that showed up here is not the typical Liberty team."

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