Last week’s double-overtime loss to South Carroll dealt a sufficient shock to the Linganore girls soccer team, which was ranked in the top 15 nationally by topdrawersoccer.com at the time.
Not only did the Lancers lose their first regular-season game in almost two years, they learned minutes before the game that they’d be without one of their star strikers, senior Montanna Hill, due to pain in her right knee.
Hill’s absence left a huge hole in Linganore’s lineup. With 12 goals and two assists though the first six games, the Coastal Carolina recruit was the leading scorer in Frederick County by a wide margin. The Lancers had to scramble to reshuffle players right before the game.
Not that they used any of that as an excuse.
“We didn’t come out ready to play,” junior midfielder Miranda Keaton said frankly.
Senior striker Elizabeth Coletti, who typically stars alongside Hill, said the team was not ready to play and lacked focus.
Those comments were echoed by coach Howie Putterman, who offered that it simply wasn’t their night.
“It happens,” he said. “All credit to [South Carroll]. They out-hustled us that night. They worked their tails off. They gave us their best.”
Things have improved significantly in the past week.
Hill underwent an MRI last Wednesday and was quite relieved to learn that her knee issue was a strain of the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). She initially feared that it would require season-ending surgery.
Wearing a bulky brace that significantly hampered her movement, Hill even played the final 10 minutes of the first half in Linganore’s 6-0 victory at Tuscarora on Monday night.
“It felt a lot better,” she said. “Having a week off definitely helped.”
Hill said her brace was unnecessary. She wore it as “sort of a mental thing” to aide her recovery. With proper rest and treatment, she is confident she will be able to play the rest of the season at close to full strength.
The team, meanwhile, hashed out a variety of its other issues.
Since the rain last week made it difficult to practice, Coletti said the players had plenty of “reflection time.” There was a lot of focus on team building.
“It got a lot of the stuff we’ve wanted to say, wanted to work out and figure out off of our chests,” she said. “Then, it was reflected in our play.”
Looking like their normal selves, the Lancers (7-1) scored a pair of goals in the first six minutes against Tuscarora. They extended the lead to 4-0 with more than 10 minutes to play in the first half.
Hill played quite gingerly and was being watched closely by her coaches for any sign of strife. Linganore already held a big lead when she entered. So, her appearance was mainly to help her get her legs back under her.
“Had anything happened, a tough tackle or anything like that, I would have pulled her right away,” Putterman said.
She did not play at all in the second half.
In Hill’s absence, Keaton moved up to striker and notched a hat trick. Coletti, a Towson recruit, added a pair of goals and two assists, and Hannah Hoefs, a Maryland recruit, added a goal and an assist.
By and large, Linganore feels its season is right back on track. The Lancers are aiming to win a state title this season after falling in the Class 3A championship game last November.
“I am excited to see where this goes,” Coletti said.