Posted: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 2:00 am
By Joe Ferraro News-Post Staff firstname.lastname@example.org
DAMASCUS — Linganore’s girls soccer team had just recorded its most significant victory in a generation Tuesday, yet Elizabeth Coletti’s voice still cracked when she reflected on the stinging disappointment of a year ago.
The scars from that Class 3A West Region final to Damascus on the Lancers’ home field still remained. The fact that the players still competing for Linganore’s current team couldn’t see a group of six seniors she considered dear friends experience a piece of history still bothered Coletti.
"(I felt) like crap,” Coletti said. "It made me feel terrible.”
Some of those 2014 graduates came to Damascus High for a region final rematch, and Coletti gave them some memories that helped ease the heartbreak.
Leaning on its healthy balance of technical soccer skills and pure athleticism, Linganore scored twice in the first 15 minutes, and the goals held up as the Lancers beat the Hornets 2-0 to claim their first state semifinal berth in 19 years.
The chance at redemption gave Linganore all the motivation it needed.
"It definitely pushed us more to win,” said Montanna Hill, who scored the second of the Lancers’ two goals.
Linganore (16-0) will next play Class 3A South champion Northern (Calvert) at CCBC-Essex on Saturday at a time to be determined.
Lancers coach Howie Putterman saw the potential for his team’s early outburst upon seeing Damascus use a flat back four defensive alignment. Urbana leaned on that strategy five days earlier, and the Lancers’ created a fair number of breakaway chances in a 5-1 victory.
"I was salivating,” Putterman said. "We had some practice in it, which was very nice. We did not expect that.”
Coletti, the Lancers’ top distributor, played a role in both goals.
In the second minute, she got behind the Damascus defense and rifled a 20-yarder that clanged off the bottom of the crossbar. But the ball pinballed its way to Megan Werner just to the left of the goal, and she neatly tucked in a shot just inside the far post.
In the 15th minute, Coletti again charged past the Hornets back line. Damascus goalkeeper Julia Holt, in an act of desperation, tried charging at Coletti, but the junior found a familiar teammate streaking toward the right goalpost: Hill, who tapped the ball in for her 20th goal of the season.
"It’s great playing with (Hill) because I know she’s going to finish the job,” Coletti said. "It makes life a lot more easier, and I know she’s going to finish it when she has the right opportunity.”
From the midfield, Coletti regularly found Hill and McKenzie McCaull rushing toward the goal, and they often were two to three steps ahead of defenders desperately trying to keep up.
"We have speed up top, we have speed in back, and tonight was a night we had to use it,” Putterman said.
That speed in the back came from Danielle Ferris and Megan Kelly, who ran down Damascus midfielders streaking down the flanks and prevented them from creating any dangerous scoring chances.
One of the Lancers’ rocks on the back line, Katie Lamb, left the match in the third minute with an ankle injury, and Putterman praised the efforts of replacement Valerie Becker.
Lamb’s injury occurred in a physical match that featured three yellow cards.
"It was intense,” Hill said.
Goalkeeper Rhianna Lapen made her only save of the game on a shot by Danielle Martinez in the 50th minute.
The Lancers have allowed just three goals this season — an impressive statistic that doesn’t surprise Coletti.
"No, because how solid our defense and goalie is back there,” Coletti said.
And the offense isn’t too shabby either, scoring 57 goals. It all added up to high expectations, including the state semifinal berth the Lancers so badly wanted.
"But the job’s not finished,” Coletti said. "We still have a ways to go.”