For most of the season, the Linganore girls soccer team has won games simply by doing what was expected.
But last week’s one-goal home loss to Urbana opened the Lancers’ eyes to something they might not have even realized.
They weren’t a good team just because they had a nice collection of talented players. They weren’t just good because other people kept telling them so and they had yet to lose a game prior to playing the Hawks.
The Lancers proved to themselves they were good by hanging tough against with the reigning Class 3A state champions and, perhaps, the top public-school girls soccer team in the state over the course of 80 minutes.
“I challenged them. Can you play like that every night for the rest of the season?” Linganore coach Howie Putterman said, raising the bar for his team.
In their first game since that setback, the Lancers played rather crisply Tuesday night in a 3-0 home win over Tuscarora.
The passing was on-point. The good scoring chances were finished. The defense stood tall when it had to. And Linganore (8-1-3) came away with a rather convincing win over a respectable opponent.
“They stepped up and said, ‘We are that good,’” Putterman said. “We are not just going to do that when Urbana comes to town. We are going to do that against everybody. That was my challenge to them, and they fulfilled it tonight.”
All of the scoring was set up by terrific passes.
Midway through the first half, senior midfielder Ashley Yurich sent a ball ahead to junior midfielder Fiona Rowan, who had slipped past the defense and cashed in the opportunity for her fifth goal of the season.
Then, Linganore scored twice more inside the final two minutes of the first half.
First, senior striker Haley Barge scored her 13th goal of the season off of a corner kick by sophomore midfielder Juliana Zeller.
Then, a minute or so later, Barge got behind the defense on a great feed by freshman midfielder Bailey Bennett and once again put the ball in the back of the net.
“I think we work really well together, and we are just having a really good time,” Rowan said. “I think a lot of us play similarly. So, we work well together because of that. And I think we are all about each other and not trying to play as individuals this year.”
Tuscarora (3-3-2), meanwhile, is seeking the same sort of confidence-building performance against a strong opponent.
The Titans put a little more pressure on the Linganore goal in the second half, but were unable to finish any of the chances.
“We battled. [Linganore] is good. I was really happy with the way we came out after halftime and tried to get things a little more settled down,” Tuscarora coach Troy Bowers said.
“You know what, for our team right now, it’s just them having the confidence and realizing that they can get it done against these better teams. It takes, sometimes, games like this to make them believe that.”