Sophomore forward Sahar Zoghi scored an impressive goal in the first minute to give the Wilde Lake girls soccer team an early advantage at No. 15 Atholton on Tuesday.
The collective effort the Wildecats came up with in the remaining 79 minutes was equally impressive.
Getting to the ball first much of the time and playing tough defense in other key moments, Wilde Lake was able to protect the lead to come away with the 1-0 win over Atholton in the Class 3A East region Section II semifinals.
With the victory, the Wildecats improved to 7-4-1 and will next travel to defending Class 3A state champion River Hill in the section final Friday. The No. 2 Hawks beat Reservoir, 1-0, on Tuesday.
Zoghi, who stole a ball at midfield and then made a strong run down the right side before finding the far post from 14 yards out, was glad she could help the team with her second goal of the season.
"I was really surprised. I just came into the game at 110 percent," Zoghi said. "I was so excited. I didn't want today to be the last time playing with everybody because I really love playing with them all. I was just glad to score for the team. It just feels good to contribute for the team."
In the first half, the Wildecats effectively disrupted the Raiders' short passing game by winning balls at midfield and pushing forward.
Atholton (9-4-2) played with more urgency in the second half, pressing more for a tying goal that would never come. Wilde Lake senior goalie Alyssa Bialek made four saves and got organized play from her defenders throughout the game. The Raiders got a ball past Bialek with 2:44 left, but they were called for offsides.
"It was just really intense because both teams were playing really well at the end," Bialek said. "I was a little scared they were going to score, so it was exciting. Every time the ball came back, my stomach would drop, but I just did the best I could."
With nine juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen on the roster, the Raiders left the field disappointing but knowing the future is promising.
"The first half, they came out with more heart," Atholton coach Stephanie Stoutenborough, who will return nine starters next year. "The second half, we came out and possessed it a little better the way we've played all season, but unfortunately we couldn't get a decent enough shot off.
"They just wanted it a little more and did what they had to."