Danielle Rivas has been the calm in the midst of a playoff storm for C.
Milton Wright's girls soccer team that captured the regional championship Thursday.
The junior goalie had 24 saves, including three in a shootout, as the Mustangs beat Dulaney, 2-1, in Tuesday's regional semifinal. Then, Rivas stopped six shots in a 3-2 victory over Perry Hall Thursday that gave the Mustangs the Region I title.
The Mustangs (10-4) advance to Saturday's state Class 3A/4A semifinal game. The only other county team in the playoffs, Joppatowne, lost to Loch Raven in Thursday's Class 1A/2A, Region III final.
But C. Milton Wright had to survive two of its closest games all season to win its regional title. Coach Ken Dawson gave Rivas a lot of the credit.
"She's a very cool customer," said Dawson. "For the most part, she doesn't let things bother her. If one gets by her, she'll give you credit, but she's determined to stop the next one. She can do as good a job as anybody we've come up against."
Tuesday, Julie Francis scored the Mustangs' only goal in 80 minutes of regulation. With 7:19 gone in the first half, she scored on a pass from Kelly MacNeill.
Dulaney put the pressure on in the second half outshooting the Mustangs, 22-2, but Rivas came up with nine saves. Terri Rich, a former Harford United player, scored Dulaney's goal in the second half on a corner kick from Courtney McClelland.
Neither team could manage a goal in overtime, but in the shootout, the Mustangs outscored Dulaney, 5-3. Rivas, MacNeill, Leigh Biggerman, Jen Catlin and Francis all scored.
For the regional final, the Mustangs traveled to meet Perry Hall, a team they already had beaten, 2-1, in sudden-death overtime.
"We stressed to the girls, after we beat Dulaney, that Perry Hall had to have tremendous incentive to beat us," explained Dawson. "We had played Perry Hall four times in the last two years and we won all four times."
With 26 minutes left in the game, the Mustangs found themselves trailing, 2-1. But they quickly recovered especially on defense. Sweeper Biggerman and fullback Melisa Billings turned in outstanding performances.
Fullback Tammy Gast came off the bench with another strong effort.
MacNeill and Francis scored goals to bring the Mustangs back. Dina Lastner had the first goal, and Francis had two assists.
The Mustangs outshot Perry Hall, 22-9, but they missed some excellent opportunities to score.
"We're not a run-and-gun team. We never have been," said Dawson. "We need our midfield to get their feet on the ball and control it and create some things. We were able to do that a little better today (Thursday)."
In the Class 3A/4A state semifinals, C. Milton Wright is likely to be seeded fourth and meet two-time defending champion Severna Park. The game between the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at Chesapeake High School in Anne Arundel County. The second and third seeds, which were to have been determined this weekend, will meet at 1 p.m.
"We look forward to playing them," said Dawson, whose team lost, 4-0, to Severna Park in last year's state title game. "There's no question they're the best in the state. If you're going to play somebody, why not play the best?"
In Class 1A/2A, Joppatowne outshot Loch Raven, 21-13, but still lost, 3-2. Thori Staples scored both Mariners goals.
The Mariners (10-3) had a lot of trouble adjusting to the Raiders' field, which is spread over two softball diamonds and is mostly dirt.
"We didn't move well to the ball," said Joppatowne coach Dwayne Noe.
"We couldn't adjust to the ball bouncing so much. We're used to moving the ball on the ground and you can't do that very well on a dirt field."
Joppatowne had 13 shots in the second half, including two with Raiders goalie Sarilee Seeger (18 saves) out. Fullback Anne Rommel had one save and the Mariners missed the goal on the other shot.
In Tuesday's semifinal, the Mariners had beaten Fallston, 2-1, for the second time this year.
Chrissy Maly scored on a feed from Staples in the first half, but Fallston's Kristina Lilley tied the game a couple minutes later.
Jen Francis scored the game-winner late in the second half.