Amid all the change swirling around the Linganore girls soccer team this season due to injury and the loss of key players to graduation, Hannah Hoefs has consistently tried to put herself in the right spot.
On Thursday night, that meant being at the back post to knock in a corner-kick delivery from striker Elizabeth Coletti, lifting the Lancers to another nail-biting victory over Oakdale, 1-0.
Last season’s game between the teams stretched to the final minutes of overtime before Linganore won by an identical score for its first win over Oakdale. The winning goal in that game was scored with a little more than two minutes left in overtime by striker Montanna Hill on an assist from Hoefs (pronounced Hay-fs).
The Lancers (11-1) have been battle-tested lately. On Tuesday they needed about 77 minutes of the 80 minutes to put away Walkersville, 1-0, on a goal by Hill, which was assisted by Coletti. And Thursday night’s game against Oakdale fit right into the pattern.
“I think it’s good for our mettle, good for our grit,” said Linganore coach Howie Putterman, who will lead his team into the inaugural Central Maryland Conference championship game for girls soccer at 2 p.m. next Saturday against Urbana at Hood College. The Lancers won the earlier meeting between the teams, 2-1.
Hoefs’ game-winner against Oakdale, scored with roughly seven minutes left in the game, was particularly meaningful because it occurred on senior night. Hoefs, who transferred to Linganore last season after playing at Parkside, was one of eight Lancers playing the final regular-season game on their home field. They were all honored before the game.
“It’s awesome,” said Hoefs, who originally lived in the Linganore school district before she moved and attended Parkside for her freshman and sophomore years. “Getting to play in front of family from over here, playing in big games like that, it’s awesome.”
Quite remarkably, Hoefs has only been on the losing side of two regular season games. One was the very first game of her freshman year at Parkside. The other was an overtime loss to South Carroll on Sept. 28 of this season.
“It’s [been] different,” Hoefs said of playing at Linganore compared to Parkville, a school she helped reach the state semifinals in Class 2A in 2013. “Bigger school. Better [opponents]. It’s still a great atmosphere.”
This season, she has dialed back her natural goal-scoring tendencies to help organize the midfield, where the Lancers were hammered the hardest by graduation.
“She has taken on the midfield and tried to make it her own,” Putterman said. “She is working hard to do some of the dirty work, winning balls out of the air, holding back instead of going forward all of the time. The work isn’t as glamourous.”
Still, Hoefs is among the leading scorers in Frederick County with eight goals and nine assists. It’s just that “she’s not doing it by hanging out up top,” Putterman said.
Hoefs’ continued contributions will be vital going forward for the Lancers, who are aiming to win a state title in 3A this season with a much different cast and playing a significantly different style.
“We have a lot of great talent,” Hoefs, a Maryland recruit, said. “Some of the best players in the state are here. I think putting it all together and being able to work together is what we need to work on.”
Despite playing Linganore evenly for most of the 80 minutes, Oakdale fell to 10-4 this season. The Bears’ offense was hampered when freshman midfielder Megan Connor, one of the leading scorers in the county, suffered a lower leg injury midway through the second half.
Oakdale coach Aric Canonico did not believe it was a major injury.
“Our girls did a great job,” he said. “They executed the game plan. They did everything I could have asked. It’s a great group of kids. I told them I didn’t want to be on any other side.”