When the No. 8 Marriotts Ridge girls soccer team has the opportunity to take a penalty kick, coach Robin Grey usually turns to four-year starter and team captain Alex Price.
She has buried several shots already this season and had the opportunity again on Thursday evening against No. 9 River Hill.
Price stepped up to the ball and fired it into the left corner to put the Mustangs ahead as they went on to defeat the host Hawks, 2-0, to win the Howard County title.
“First off, I thought, all we needed was one goal to win it,” said Price. “I actually saw the goal keeper cheat to the right. It’s later on in the season and I’ve taken four or five of these now, so if you watch any film or have seen any games, you know which way I am going to go. I thought, time to switch it up and put it in the left side of the net.”
She added: “It’s the first time this year that I went left. It’s the county championship, I don’t know if it was a good idea to switch it up now but it worked out for us and that’s great.”
Marriotts Ridge improved to 12-1-1 overall on the season and 10-1-0 in the league, while River Hill dropped to 12-2-0 and 9-2-0 respectively.
The Marriottsville school opened its doors in 2005 and fielded its first varsity soccer team in 2006. In five short years, the Mustangs have gone from, in a way, an expansion team to a championship caliber club.
“This is definitely validation for all the hard work we have put in, not only this season but for the past five years,” said Grey. “As a new school, we’ve been trying to establish ourselves. We’ve been working to break that top tier and we’re always there but we’ve never been the top gun so to speak…Finally it’s us and it feels amazing.”
A season ago, the Mustangs faced the Hawks in the final game of the regular season and tied them 0-0, giving Reservoir the outright championship and left River Hill to wait another year for a shot at the title.
“Last year, we played River Hill as our last game, it was our senior game and we were deciding the county championships for other teams and it was just so nice to win it for ourselves this time,” said Marriotts Ridge junior defender Maria Hochuli.
The Hawks were called for a hand ball inside the box, to set up Price’s penalty shot in the 15th minute. With 11 minutes left in the half, the Mustangs capitalized again, this time off of a corner kick. Price played the ball in and teammate Katherine Kanner headed it past River Hill goalie Carly Burnett to put the visitors ahead by two goals.
“I saw the goalie jumping and the ball went over her hand so I just kept on running and closed my eyes and prayed a little bit,” said Kanner.
River Hill came out looking like a new team in the second half. The Hawks, who were outshot 5-1 in the first 40 minutes, controlled possession of the ball for a large chunk of the second half and put up seven shots.
But River Hill couldn’t score on their chances. In the 44th minute, junior midfielder Elizabeth Bamber had a good look but kicked it just over the top of the goal. Ten minutes later, Bamber crossed the ball to freshman forward Sheridan Street, who pushed the shot wide to the left.
That was the story over the Hawks’ night, close but no cigar. With seven minutes to play, Katherine Arensmeier took a shot right in front of the goal but Mustangs goalie Kristine Mumby made a diving save to preserve the shutout.
“We need to finish,” said River Hill coach Brian Song, whose team was in search of its ninth county championship. “Unfortunately, we gave up that early goal on the [penalty kick]. I want to congratulate Marriotts Ridge, they played very well in the first half but in the second half, we totally dominated. We just couldn’t finish.”
“We were nervous going in for their throws,” Hochuli said. “We worked really hard on defending it in practice and I think we did a good job shutting them down. They did have quality opportunities but we were there to stop them.”
The Mustang defense, comprised of Hochuli, sophomore Morgan Crable, junior Tori Thompson, seniors Megan Page, Sarah Ferrell and Mumby (five saves), held up in the end.
Marriotts Ridge will travel to Meade High School on Tuesday to face No. 5 Severna Park, the Anne Arundel County titlist, to crown the winner of the District V championship.
CLICK RELATED VIDEOS TAB ABOVE FOR GAME HIGHLIGHTS
|No. 8 Marriotts Ridge 2, No. 9 River Hill 0|
MR-Mumby 5; RH-Brunett 2,