Epperlein's big saves frustrate Hereford, lift Glenelg to 2-1 victory Gladiators gets first title behind goalie's 11 stops

Class 1A-2A girls soccer

November 16, 1997|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Until last night, Glenelg goalie Jamie Epperlein and Hereford striker Melissa Mueller had squared off only in practice.

For the Columbia Magic club teammates, last night's state Class 1A-2A championship game was their first as opponents. Although Mueller did score a goal, Epperlein made a few more sensational plays to lead Glenelg to a 2-1 victory and its first state girls soccer title at Dundalk Community College.

"They owe it all to Jamie, because she played outstanding," said Mueller. "I wanted to see what I could do against her in a game situation. I was ready for her, but she played an outstanding game."

The Gladiators junior keeper made 11 saves -- eight as she shut out the No. 14-ranked Bulls in the first half. But Epperlein came up even bigger in the second half.

She reached out to make a point-blank save against Brooke Levine early in the second half to preserve a 1-0 lead. After Mueller slipped a header past her to tie the game, Epperlein rushed out to smother a Mueller break with 13 minutes left in the game.

"Jamie made some beautiful saves," said Hereford coach Steve Power, whose team outshot the Gladiators 16-4. "We produced some quality shots and she made some saves when it counted."

Epperlein also got a lot of help from defensive teammates Layne Buckler, Lori Tvarkunas, Amanda Standquist, Christa Vent and Kelly Renfro. Tvarkunas drew the tough assignment marking Mueller, who came into the game with a school-record 24 goals this season.

"It was a great team effort," said Glenelg coach Mike Williams. "We had to bend a lot tonight. They had some chances. Frankly, the deserved better. They played hard and they had an outstanding team. We finished well on the few shots that we had."

Glenelg was lucky early when Mueller got loose on a breakaway but fired just a little too wide trying to hit the far corner.

The Gladiators then took the lead on Melissa Wilder's goal in the ninth minute. Renfro sent her a through ball and Wilder carried it to the right corner of the box and fired inside the far post.

But the Bulls (13-1-3) had been down before. They had rallied to beat Oakland Mills in Monday's state semifinal by scoring two goals in the final 13 minutes.

Mueller tied last night's game in the 59th minute, heading in a cross from Heather Bell.

"It was a real high cross," said Epperlein. "I kind of hesitated. I should have punched it away from her, but I was waiting for the shot. It was beautiful placement on her part. I had a hand on it, but it went right by me."

Vent made up for it scoring the game winner with a little more than nine minutes to go. She put a no-angle shot across in front of Hereford keeper Lauren Rice from the right.

"Their long switches to their right side gave us all sorts of problems," said Power. "[Vent] ran through the middle and beat the stopper. We talked about pushing girls with the ball to the side. She pushed her out there and the girl snuck it in the corner."

The Gladiators' victory polished off a sensational run through the playoffs. They had won only three games coming into the regional playoffs and finished with five straight wins to go 8-7-4.

"I told everybody at the beginning of the year this was a good team," said Williams. "I liked their chemistry and they worked real hard for this."

Pub Date: 11/16/97

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