Playing near home for once, Michelle Salmon wanted to hang around. Thanks to her late heroics, Reston (Va.) United did just that, sticking around the Columbia Invitational Soccer Tournament.
Salmon's goal in the 72nd minute capped a furious second-half rally as Reston scored three times in five minutes to eliminate the St. Paul Blackhawks, 3-2, in an under-19 girls quarterfinal at the Fort Meade Parade Grounds.
Salmon, a senior at Old Mill High School in Millersville, drives 2 1/2 hours round-trip three or four times per week for practice and games since joining Reston in September. Her goal followed two from Potomac's Dina Padula, also her teammate on the U.S. under-20 national team.
"It's kind of hard during the school year, but somehow I get my homework done," said Salmon, who left the Severna Park Alliance. "But this team has a lot of regional [Olympic Development Program] players and it helps me to play at that level every day, not just at regional camps."
Reston will play the the U.S. Youth Soccer Region I champion Boston Bolts in one semifinal today at Fort Meade. Boston beat VISTA United College of Springfield, Va., 1-0, in a rematch of last year's regional final.
The Bethesda Blizzard needed a goal from Susan Trenary off an assist by Nikola Francisco with two minutes left in a second five-minute overtime period to escape with a 2-1 decision over the Twin County Raiders from Brick, N.J. The Blizzard, a U-18 team, will meet the defending national U-19 champion, F.C. Hammer of Middletown, Ohio, in another 8 a.m. semifinal.
Hammer, which beat the Bolts in the 1993 national final, got two goals from Kim LaBelle and one from Tricia Barkman and Jill Garleski to drop the Virginia Classics of Springfield, 4-0. The U-19 girls championship match is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., one of nine girls and 11 boys finals to be played today at Fort Meade, starting at 9 a.m.
The victory was particularly sweet for Reston, five-time Virginia State Cup titlists, since four players from St. Paul were on the Burnsville Giants who beat the United, 3-2, for the 1992 U-16 national crown.
That included Carmie Landine, who scored the Blackhawks' first goal.
When Colleen Tierney put St. Paul up 2-0 with 25 minutes remaining in the 90-minute affair, it appeared the Minnesotans were on their way to the semifinals.
But Padula scored twice within two minutes, first on a cross from Jen Cuesta, then from Carol Prendergast, before Salmon scored on an assist from Cheryl Zimmerman.
"Just because we're down, we don't give up," said Padula, the Montgomery County high school player of the year, a senior at Churchill. "We knew they beat us in '92, but that doesn't have any bearing here.
"I remembered it very clearly. One of their girls said to me, 'I just wish I could go home' and they were winning 2-0!
"I was so mad because I wanted to win so bad. It made me play that much harder."