By Jennifer Beekman Staff Writer
The speed and skill of Linganore High School junior striker Montanna Hill did not come as a shock to the Damascus girls soccer team in Tuesday’s Class 3A West Region final. But that sure didn’t make the Lancers any easier to contend with.
In a valiant defensive effort, Damascus held the Frederick County team that outscored its previous two opponents, 12-1, to two goals, but the Swarmin’ Hornets were unable to generate much offense of their own in a 2-0 home loss. The game was a rematch of last year’s region championship game won 2-1 by Damascus (13-4); the perennial contending Lancers (16-0) last won a region title in 1995.
"That last bit was missing, that last pass,” Damascus coach David Kovack said. "We didn’t connect and we need to connect around the box to get more effective shots off. ...
"Montanna grew up in Damascus. We knew about her, we hoped we could handle her. For the most part we did. She’s a phenomenal scorer. She’s got a great cast around her this year more than last year and we knew we were in for a tough fight with her.”
It was junior Megan Werner who scored the deciding goal in the second minute. Damascus struggled to regain its defensive form after a ball ricocheted off the crossbar, leaving the talented midfielder open on the left. Hill, who kept the Hornets’ defense busy for much of the night, scored the insurance goal in the 15th minute off a pass from Elizabeth Coletti.
"[Last year’s region final loss] is what’s been in these girls’ minds,” Linganore coach Howard Putterman said. "We lost to a very good team but we felt like we could win. That’s been our goal all year, to get to the next level.”
From an outsider’s perspective, Kovack admitted, the Swarmin’ Hornets probably overachieved just by getting to Tuesday’s region final. Damascus entered this season with only three returning starters from last year’s state semifinal squad but Kovack said his players had no intention of letting the program fall off.
"I think starting out we had to find who we were, find our identity because so many excellent players graduated last year and that took a while,” Kovack said. "But then we beat [Bethedsa-Chevy Chase] and things started to straighten out after that. ... These girls did not look [at this like a rebuilding season]. We set goals as a team and those were to get back to states and try and take it a step further.”
Damascus has lost some of the program’s most prolific scorers the past two seasons but sophomore Samantha Martinez stepped right into that playmaking role. She finished the year with a team-high 19 goals and 10 assists. Sarah Smith and Savannah Perrin, whose speed helped keep Hill less productive than usual Tuesday, have been vital to Damascus’ back line. And what’s exciting, Kovack said, is most of this year’s team should be back next fall.
"This is a team with a lot of young players so we’re just going to reload and give it another shot,” Kovack said.
Linganore 2, Damascus 0
Linganore (16-0) 2 0 — 2
Damascus (13-4) 0 0 — 0
Linganore — Megan Werner (2’), Montana Hill (15’).