For some of the North Harford seniors, Wednesday, the 3-0 state semifinal win over Northern-Calvert was more than just a punched ticket to the state finals.
After seeing losses in the regional quarterfinals for three consecutive seasons, the North Harford Hawks finally find themselves soaring above their state-wide opponents, giving the young ladies a chance at claiming a 3A state championship.
“It is the best feeling I have ever had,” Hawks’ senior Jessica Rutherford described the win. “I have been on varsity for three years, and we have never been this far.
“I can’t even explain how happy I am. I love this team… I’m going to cry. I am just so happy, and it is the best feeling in the world.”
The Hawks not only won the state semifinal game, they dominated it, ripping more than 20 shots at the Patriot goal and possessing the ball for nearly the entire game.
But despite the quantity of shots on goal, the Hawks struggles to put numbers on the scoreboard till sophomore Maddy Dolinar sent a ball to meet the back of the cage for a 1-0 lead in the game’s 21st minute.
“One of the girls tipped me off after the goalie hit it off her foot and I was just there,” Dolinar said modestly.
And the one goal would have been enough for the Hawks, who played just as aggressively in the second half to hold the Pats to just seven shots in the entire game, but insurance goals from Rutherford and junior Emily Eline in the final 10 minutes would seal the three-goal win.
“It was amazing and my first goal of the season,” Eline said. “Jess shot it in, and the defender rebounded it and I was there.”
“They played awesome,” North Harford Head Coach Katie Simms said of her team. “I am just so proud of the girls.
“We came into this game knowing that we would have to score and that we would have to keep a lot of pressure on them the entire time. We did exactly what we needed to do, and that was score.”
The Hawks have been scoring well all season, earning nine of their 10 wins in 2010 by at least two goals. North Harford is also yet to allow a goal in nearly a month of play, saying a lot for senior keeper Beth Genovese and the Hawk defense.
Playing on the turf field at Broadneck High School, North Harford felt right at home since they play on the same type of surface on a regular basis. Northern, however, took some rather extreme measures to attempt and duplicate the playing surface, moving some of their practices to the school’s tennis courts.
The Patriot defense did everything they could to try and stop the Hawks from scoring, and, not letting the constant offensive pressure break her, junior goalie Julia Berry stood strong with 11 saves on the night.
“Julia had a great game,” Patriots’ head coach Nicole Kerfoot said. “I would say she kept the score down and kept us in the game. She had a lot of key saves.
“She is a first year goalie and has really stepped it up. She has done a great job for us in the cage, and she was the one who kept us in the Huntingtown game to get here. I am real proud of her.”
The Pats beat the Hurricanes, 1-0, in the 3A South Region finals to make it to Wednesday’s game, and ended their 2010 season with a record of 13-4 and a repeat regional title.
“The girls have done a great job this season,” Kerfoot explained. “We had a .500-season last year and made it here, but the girls have worked hard all season and really wanted it. It is a big difference from last year, and they deserved to be here.”
North Harford will next face 14-4 River Hill in the 3A State Championship, late Saturday morning, playing at Washington College.
“We just have to keep doing what we are doing,” Simms said. “At this point in our season, they know everything they need to know, and they are playing great as a team while having fun.”
|North Harford 3, Northern-Calvert 0|
NH-Dolinar, Rutherford, Eline.
NH-Genovese 3; NC-Berry 11.