For the past seven years, the girls’ soccer program at John Carroll has seemed to have a “one-up” on its cross-town rival at C. Milton Wright, beating the Mustangs and taking the title of Bel Air’s top soccer squad.

But the No. 6 C. Milton Wright Mustangs (11-1-1, 6-0 UCBAC) put a stop to the Patriots’ reign of dominance, Monday, stealing the closely played match with a late second-half goal to claim a victory, 1-0.

“The girls really did a good job after halftime,” Mustang head coach Paul Austin explained.  “We talked about our forwards having more composure and not rushing themselves with settling a bit and getting more touches, and they did that in the second half.  I thought that was just a great win as a team and gives us a spring board to move forward.”

Playing through 73 minutes of scoreless soccer, C. Milton Wright made its move with a free kick opportunity nearing the end of the game, seeing sophomore Jessie Canami take a free kick from freshman Lauren Haggerty and head the ball deep inside the box it to senior captain Kellie McKinney, who laced a shot to the far upper-right corner of the net for the 1-0 lead.

“By that point, we knew we had to execute on every chance we had, so as soon as we got the free kick we were all ready and all pumped up,” McKinney said.  “It was a great kick, and Jessie Canami headed it.  As soon as I saw it in the air, I knew I just had to keep my composure…keep it from going over the goal and I just hit it.”

The McKinney goal gave the Mustangs what they needed to one-up the Patriots (10-2-2, 5-1-2 IAAM) in what was otherwise an extremely well balanced game, with both teams seeing opportunities to change the tide of the match.

Sharing just three shots each on the first half, both team’s defenses were a crucial part of what kept the game scoreless, but it was the C. Milton defense which reigned supreme in the end.

Led by sophomores Kelsey Targarona, Abby Smucker and senior Emily Wehland, the Mustang defense held the Patriots to just one corner kick in the second half while continuously clearing the ball from the C. Milton goal.

“They had a lot of offensive pressure and I know a couple times we were outnumbered in the back,” Targarona admitted, “but we still got through it and were able to clear it when we had to and pass it when we had to, so we did better in the second half than we did in the first.”

Likewise, the Patriots tried to contain the Mustang’s scoring opportunities, and did so with the leadership of sophomore Becky Hottle, junior Leah Pace and senior Morgan Fraczkowski.

“I thought we played well,” Patriot’s head coach Garry Lynch said.  “We only had a roster of 15 going in, so we were a little tired, but that’s ok.  C. Milton Wright is a very good team, and I thought it was an even match.  

“I think both teams had opportunities throughout the match to score.  They are a good team and I hope they do well in states.”

Over the years, the rivalries between John Carroll and the surrounding Bel Air school’s have been growing without fail, and the mere 2.8 miles that separate the Mustangs from the Patriots is just one factor in that rivalry.

“Certainly, they have become a rival since we are so close, and our girls know each other,” Austin said.  “They are always at the top of the rankings and in the [IAAM] A Conference, so they are a great measure for us as a team.”

“They have had the advantage over the past six or seven years.  We have tied once, we may have won one early on, but they have had the best of us, whether it was a close game or they took it to us.  It is good to see us comeback and battle like this.”

The Patriots are currently tied with Archbishop Spalding for second place in the IAAM A Conference, both trailing eight points behind the conference leading McDonogh School.

“It is not about bouncing back,” Lynch said after the loss.  “We only play ranked teams, and this is all about getting ready for the IAAM.  We played hard and I think it possibly could have gone either way.  Hopefully, we just learned something from the match.”

John Carroll will return to IAAM play, Wednesday, when they take on St. Mary’s.

C. Milton, with the Chesapeake Division Title already safely in the trophy case, will next take on Patterson Mill, Wednesday, in preparation for the UCBAC Championship Game, Oct. 26.

“I think one thing we take out of this is confidence over the ball,” Austin said after the game.  “Because we were playing a good team, I think we played rushed and we really settled down in the second ha lf.  The defense played well like they have all season, but our front third played very well in the second half.

“Our goal from this point on is to get better everyday.  A win like today gives you confidence.”

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C. Milton Wright 1, John Carroll 0
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