Westminster nets big prize, 3-1

Komar delivers goal, two assists to propel Owls past Parkville

Class 4A girls soccer championship

High schools

November 19, 1999|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

No one has to remind Westminster's Amy Vagnoni of what a difference a year makes.

Last season, the Owls compiled a 6-10 record and were ousted from the regional semifinals by Severna Park.

Last night, the sixth-ranked Owls followed the lead of senior midfielder Mandy Komar (one goal, two assists) in defeating ninth-ranked Parkville, 3-1, in the Class 4A state championship game at UMBC in Catonsville.

The victory propelled Westminster (14-2-1) to its first state soccer crown in school history -- which did not escape the notice of Vagnoni.

"This is so great," said the senior forward. "We've been wanting this ever since our freshman year. This is heaven."

Owls senior goalkeeper Amy Ridgely, who made eight saves, noted that the school celebrated its 100th anniversary last September.

"For us to win, it's a big deal," she said. "It meant a lot to us to win it now."

Westminster hadn't made it to the state semifinals since 1996 -- one year before coach Bryan Shumaker took the reins.

In just his third year as head coach, Shumaker has led his squads to a record of 27-19-1.

"If I could put it in a bottle, it'd be easy," he said when asked about his formula for success. "We laid a lot of the foundation last year. We put a work ethic in and kept the desire, the teamwork and the dedication."

The equation was put to the test last night as the Owls faced Parkville, which had advanced to the state tournament for the first time in school history.

Both teams applied moderate pressure, but couldn't break through. But with 18: 42 gone in the first half, Komar's direct kick from about 20 yards away deflected off a wall of Knight players and skipped to senior forward Rachel Lindsay.

Lindsay buried a shot past Parkville sophomore goalie Heather Rock for the lead.

Less than 10 minutes later, Komar tucked a shot from about 30 yards away into the top left corner to widen the Westminster gap to 2-0.

Komar said the Owls discovered that they could exploit the Parkville defense by running the outside lanes and crossing the ball back the center.

"That spread the field, which was huge, and gave us more room," she said. "It opened the gaps in the defense."

The Knights outshot the Owls, 7-5, in the second half, but Westminster made it 3-0 with 16: 15 left in the game on a well-planned corner kick by Komar and sophomore midfielder Tirza Ridgely.

Ridgely tapped the ball to Komar near the right post, and Komar sent the ball back to Ridgely, who was open from about 20 yards away. Ridgely lofted a shot into the far side for the score.

Parkville sophomore midfielder Courtney Schultz spoiled Amy Ridgely's bid for her ninth shutout of the season when she dumped a rebound into the net with 2: 03 left in the game.

Lindsay said she felt that Westminster's first goal put the Knights at a disadvantage.

"I think that gave us the mental edge on them," she said. "It was great to come out strong early."

Tirza Ridgely continued her strong defensive work in the playoffs as she held Knights junior forward Kristen Habicht (18 goals and eight assists this season) scoreless.

"Tirza does it on everybody," Shumaker said. "She had [Severna Park's Holly] Noga, [Wootton's Laney] Rosin, and now Habicht. She takes them all."

Parkville coach Bryan Rothstein, whose team finished with a 14-3-1 record, said he didn't have an answer for Komar.

"There's a hero in every game, and Mandy really stepped it up tonight," he said.

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