Bulls comeback from an early 2-0 deficit and win the title with two scores in the final 2:36
by Gary Adornato
With four consecutive state championships in its pocket, the Sparrows Point girls soccer team has a pedigree for finishing off opponents when titles are on the line.
However, in Tuesday’s Baltimore County Championship Game, played on the Pointers’ home turf, No. 7 Hereford, in stunning fashion, erased an early 2-0 deficit and rallied for a 3-2 victory to claim the County championship.
The Bulls (12-2-1), who now have won eight straight games, got one score back late in the first half and then scored twice in the final 2:36 of the second half to claim the crown.
Freshman sensation Payton Patrick scored her team leading 20th goal of the season for the equalizer, as the Bulls drew All-Metro goalie Jaddah Foos out of the box with a cross field pass from junior Rachel Saunders, before Patrick chipped a gorgeous volley over Foos, from a difficult angle, inside the right post.
The goal was like a gut punch to Sparrows Point (11-2), catching the usually poised and confident Pointers off guard. Hereford, not content to settle for overtime, seized the moment with continued pressure. The Bulls again created an opportunity with a cross field pass, this time from senior Julia Zemanek to classmate Kara Schmidt, who struck a hard low shot under a lunging Foos, with just 45.4 seconds to play, for the game-winner.
“That goal keeper is incredible and we did a great job all day of moving her across the field, playing one side to other,” said Hereford coach Brad Duvall. “We knew that was the only way. We were not going to beat her straight up, so we really tried to get the ball to the opposite side of the field all day to get her moving.”
Out of the gate, Sparrows Point appeared as if it would dominate like it has done so often in recent years. In the fifth-minute, 2016 VSN Player of the Year Julie Lynch converted a penalty kick after a teammate was fouled in the box and less than two minutes later, junior Jasmine Pinter served a cross to junior Sammie Bennett, who scored from 14-yards out, to give the Pointers a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the contest.
Slowly but surely, however, Hereford began to create some opportunities. In the 34th minute, Saunders made a run on the right side and was taken down in the box, creating a penalty kick opportunity for the Bulls. Senior Erin Williams did the honors and calmly converted to put Hereford on the board.
According to Schmidt, the title has been a long time coming for the Parkton school.
“We’ve been working for this for years,” said Schmidt, who has now scored nine goals this fall. “I don’t think we have been here since 2009. It’s just a great accomplishment.”
Schmidt added, “We’re a second half team. We always know to bring it if we are down and I don’t think we have ever lost it in the second half.”
Duvall agreed with his senior leader.
“This team has been behind; we got behind at Perry Hall, 1-0 at the half,” said Duvall. “We’ve been behind, all year we find a way to put ourself in trouble, but they’re so tough. The balance of the first half we really got after them and we took advantage of a couple of chances we had, in the second half.”
Sparrows Point first year head coach Lori Sexton, who has been an assistant with the Pointers during their recent dynasty run said her team simply lost its way.
“We kind of lost our composure and forgot what was going on out there,” said Sexton. “When they get the one to tie it up, I think you kind of get in panic mode and you forget to play the game you know how to play. We’re not invincible and we know that now. Hopefully we can take what we experienced here and move forward.”
Moving forward, the Pointers will begin defense of their state crowns when they open play in the 1A North Region, on Halloween, agains the winner of this Friday’s clash between Pikesville and Dunbar.
Hereford will make its playoff run in 2A where it is the second seed in the North Region. The Bulls have a double bye and will not play until Nov. 3 when they host the winner of the Eastern Tech-Central game, also to be played on Oct. 31.
“Hard work and determination,” will be the key to the Bulls’ playoff hopes said Patrick. “We can’t stay on this for a long time. We won, but we have to move on to the next game.”
BALTIMORE COUNTY GIRLS SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP
(at Sparrows Point)
NO. 7 HEREFORD 3, NO. 4 SPARROWS POINT 2
SPT 2 0 — 2
HER 1 2 — 3
GOALS: HER-Williams, Patrick, Schmidt; SP-Lynch, Bennett.
ASSISTS: HER-Saunder, Zemanek; SP-Pinter.
SAVES: HER-Arnold 4; SP-Foos 3.