Coaches tell athletes that perfection is never obtainable; there is always something which can be improved upon.  

Well, there is a group of girls from Frederick County who can say they know what it feels like to reach perfection, and point to 2010 Middletown girls’ soccer season when they went 18-0 to obtain a 2A state championship.

The Middletown Knights have reached the status of best in the state before, four times in fact, but the style in which the young ladies performed this year was a first in the school’s history, beating the Glenelg Gladiators on Saturday, 2-1, for their 18th win of the season.

“We believed in what we have could do the whole season and just went with that,” Knights’ coach Heather Kline said.  “We talked about doing what we had always done, working hard, pressuring the ball, and believing in ourselves as a whole; that’s what made us win today.  That everyone contributed no matter where they were.”

Both teams, fighting to add trophies to their schools’ already highly decorated shelves, played solid soccer for the first half, heading into the lover room with a scoreless tie, but what happened in the opening ticks of the second half would change the game entirely.

Using the speed and chemistry they have developed over past seasons, Middletown’s senior strikers Jacky Kessler and Jenna Caudle immediately put pressure on the Glenelg defense with scoring opportunities, one of which Kessler laced in the 46th minute for the Knights’ 1-0 lead.

“They knew coming in that we worked together well up top, so I think they man marked us and made sure there was always someone on us,” Caudle explained.  “We knew coming in that we had a great team all a round, and it’s not just us up top, and our team stepped it up.”

“We just talked about a little transition in our strikers and how our shape was,” Kline said of the halftime talk to spark the game’s first goal.  “Certainly we talked about being on our toes a bit more, working to balls a bit harder than we had in the first half and just believing that we were going to get it done.  They bought into that the whole season, and that was the biggest thing.

“We knew coming in that Glenelg was a very good defensive team and that we would have to work very hard to win.”

But the Glenelg defense wouldn’t be the only worry for the Knights, Saturday, and Gladiator senior midfielder Gretchen Guganus put the finishing touches on a scoring opportunity of her own ten minutes later to tie the game, 1-1.

The goal was Guganus’s first of the season, prompting her to laugh saying, “I save them for the big ones.”

The celebrations on the Gladiator bench would be short-lived, and, preventing the game from overtime, Middletown sophomore Mackenzie Noel drove a low shot under a sliding Glenelg goalie for the 2-1 game-winner.

“A Glenelg back cleared it out and it went to Mary Pritts.  She just slid the ball in and I shot it low and hard into the goal,” Noel said of her fourth goal of the season, and her first game-winner.  “I was just trying to get a shot on goal and it just went in.”

“We have been telling her to shoot all year long because she has those shots,” Kline added.

KesslerNoel’s goal seemed to be a bit more than luck, and Caudle found out her pre-game “senses” may be more than what they seem.

“I told her on Facebook before the game that I had a feeling she was going to score a big, big goal, and she did,” Caudle had predicted.  “She was like, ‘Oh yeah, whatever.’”

Glenelg finished the season 13-4-2, winning the 2A South Region and playing in its second state championship in three years, and Gladiator coach Dean Sheridan and his girls are not going to let the latest loss determine their overall season.

“To judge our season on this last game is wrong, because our season was so much more than this,” senior Elizabeth Ebeling said.  “It started on Aug. 15, and to make it this far is awesome.”

“On Aug. 15, I had 15 juniors and seniors show up for tryouts,” Sheridan said, “and those were the 15 that went the whole year.”


Middletown 2, Glenelg 1
MID-Kessler, Noel; GLE-Guganus.
MID-Moore 5, Fruhour 3; GLE-Carey 8.
MID-13; GLE-7.