The Hammond girls soccer team dominated the second half of the stateClass 1A/2A semifinal to take a 6-0 victory over North Carroll High on Friday night. Hammond got three goals from Kacy Williams, two fromKisha Jett and one from Samantha Andersch.
Hammond also had a commanding 18-5 advantage in shots and had three corner kicks to none for the Panthers in the game, played at Liberty High.
But North Carroll kept the game close in the first half.
"I think we played well in the first half," said Panthers' co-coach Phil Myers. "We made two mistakes in the first half, and they capitalized on them.
"Our aggressive play made up for some of their ball-handling skills in the first half."
Dave Guetler, the Bears' head coach,agreed. "I don't think we used our skill in the first half as well as we should have," he said. "In the second half we wanted to dribble the ball more at midfield. Inside the 30 (yard line), our skills really showed."
Hammond won a state 1A/2A title two years ago despite a 5-5-1 regular-season record.
But the appearance by North Carrollis a first for a Carroll team in the three-year history of the statetournament. Three of the eight teams in this year's state tournaments are from Howard County, including Centennial, which handed the Bears their only loss of the year, 3-1.
North Carroll ended the seasonwith a 9-4-2 record after starting the season at 2-2-2.
Hammond used its superior ball-handling skills to build a 2-0 lead in the first half. And it could have been worse if not for the hustling North Carroll team.
The two teams played fairly evenly in the early going as the Panthers' smart play overcame Hammond's ball-handling and speed. But eventually, that ball- handling ability won out.
The Bears drew first blood when Williams took a pass from Andersch, drew North Carroll goalie Jenni Heindel out of the box and drilled the ball to Heindel's left side six minutes into the game.
North Carroll had its best chance to score with a little less than 11 minutes to play in the first half when Hammond goalie Amy Nestor dropped the ball after making a save at the right post. Ashlee Douglass, the Panthers' leading scorer, was waiting, but was unable to get it past Nestor.
About six minutes later, Andersch split a pair of North Carroll defendersand rocketed a shot in the upper right corner of the goal to give the Bears a 2-0 lead.
While parts of the first half were relatively even, the second half belonged to Hammond. The Bears scored four moregoals and outshot the Panthers 9-2.
The back-breaker for the Panthers came early in the second half when Heindel dropped the ball after making a save, and Williams tapped the ball in to give the Bears a 3-0 lead.