BALTIMORE — The Huntingtown girls’ soccer team’s season ended in familiar fashion Saturday in the Maryland 3A championship game.
Two years after the Hurricanes lost a heartbreaker in penalty kicks in a state semifinal against Linganore, they fell to the Lancers in spot kicks again after a scoreless game at Loyola University.
Despite having the better of the play through regulation and both overtime periods, Huntingtown struggled to solve Linganore’s stalwart defense and ultimately succumbed to the 2015 finalists, 4-3, in penalties.
Though he admitted that the defeat two years ago was also tough to take, Huntingtown Coach Charlie Raphael said he thought this loss would sting more, because he feels his team this year was stronger.
“This one hurts, because we’d been waiting to come play this and do this,” he said.
Huntingtown (16-2-1) had the upper hand in possession from the opening whistle, frequently looking to build out of the back and make plays through midfield. But there were few clear chances for either team in front of goal, and Linganore — playing for much of the first half without leading scorer Haley Barge, who was sidelined for a spell after suffering an injury early in the game — looked content to simply defend.
In an attempt to counter, Raphael several times shifted the positions of attacking midfielders Mia Isaac and Cassidy Barnette, who were both effective playmakers for much of the afternoon.
“We were always looking to try and exploit different things. I thought we were doing well and opening the field up, and just trying to put different matchups in there, because they had so many people in the back,” Raphael said. “We kept experimenting and kept generating opportunities but couldn’t figure it out.”
In the second half, Linganore (15-1-3) continued to sit back and let Huntingtown keep the ball in less dangerous areas of the field. Despite some penetrating sequences of possession, the Hurricanes were unable to break through in the final third thanks to the Lancers’ tough defense.
After an uneventful first period of overtime, the Hurricanes nearly broke through in the second with a pair of excellent chances. Seconds after the ball bounced dangerously in front of goal following a corner kick, a close chance from freshman Savannah Hersh was cleared by the Lancers.
Despite failing to score in the second overtime, the Hurricanes said they felt confident going into the shootout, especially after they had edged country rival Northern on penalty kicks in the 3A South section final.
“It was definitely the nerves in state finals, but I always felt confident in us and our team,” Barnette said.
But it wasn’t to be. After Lancers goalkeeper Madelyn Cunningham saved one Huntingtown attempt, another missed the frame.
“I thought this year was a special year for us,” Raphael said. “I thought that this was a group of girls that could win the state championship.”