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Sparrows Point makes Shiflett's goal hold up in 1-0 state championship win

Sparrows Point junior forward Jamie Shiflett has scored big goals all season for the No. 4 Pointers and her biggest by far came 10 minutes into Saturday's Class 1A state final against Smithsburg.

The early goal left the defending state champions with a lot of time to protect the advantage and the Leopards from Washington County made it difficult, particularly in a frantic second half.

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But the Sparrows Point defense also has come up big all season. Shiflett's goal, her 31st of the season, and the determined defensive front gave the Pointers their second straight state title in a 1-0 win over Smithsburg at Loyola University's Ridley Athletic Complex.

It took 10 trips to the state tournament for Sparrows Point to finally break through with its first championship last season — a 2-1 win over the Leopards — and the Pointers showed they have it down pat with Saturday's poised repeat performance.

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They finished 16-1, winning their last 14 games and their first Baltimore County championship. They also became the first Baltimore County girls soccer team to win consecutive state crowns.

"It's fun," said Sparrows Point coach Joe Lambert when asked what it felt like to repeat. "The first team in Baltimore County to win back-to-back titles is a huge accomplishment. To go 16-1, it's just been a great season. [We just had] one little blemish on our record. If we could do that all over again, I'll take 16-1 and another state championship."

In winning the title against Smithsburg last season, the Pointers scored two goals in the final seven minutes. This time, it was the Leopards who played from behind.

Like so many times this season, sophomore midfielder Kasie Lambert (19 assists) found Shiflett and the result was a 1-0 lead.

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"Mia [DeRuggiero] played it back out for Kasie [after a corner kick] and she crossed it in," Shiflett said. "There was a really tall girl in front of me that jumped up, and once she missed it, I knew it was up to me. Then I just headed it and it went in."

The Pointers continued to control play for the rest of the first half, but were unable to increase the lead. The Leopards (15-5) picked up their play in the second half with the idea of pulling off the same feat Sparrows Point did last season.

Smithsburg's Fiona Zahm sent a number of free kicks right in front of the Pointers goal and Rebekah Morales also put in some dangerous corner kicks, but Sparrows Point goalie Madison Anthony (3 saves) and the defense in front of her stayed calm.

Anthony, who said "her heart was beating so fast" throughout the second half, was able to easily pinpoint the game's scariest moment. With the ball in front for a second too long, Smithsburg's Lindsay Penwell had a point-blank chance from the 6-yard mark.

"If I wasn't in the right spot and the right time, I wouldn't have saved it," Anthony said. "If she wouldn't have kicked it right to me — it would have went in. Yeah, It was scary."

Joe Lambert has come to expect strong play in the back, and credited defenders Barb Foster, Alexandria Adams, Alyssa Rasmussen and Hailey Bowen.

"We gave up some silly fouls, some things we really shouldn't have done," he said. "But the girls in the back, they've been together for a couple years now and they just believe in each other. They know when to get rid of the ball, they know when to possess it and work it out. There's just no panic back there whatsoever."

With 15 juniors and only one senior on this year's roster, Sparrows Point will be primed to make it three straight state championships next season.

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