It's tough to pin down the exact moment when it happened, but at some point during the past several weeks, the River Hill girls soccer team got its mojo back.
There's a little more bounce in their step, a little more strut when they walk, and the results, they speak for themselves. The No. 5 Hawks earned their second straight big win last night, getting goals from Megan Buescher and Jamie Goertler to beat Mount Hebron, 2-0, at Howard High School to win the 3A East regional final.
The win also earned River Hill a potential rematch with Urbana, one of only two teams to beat the Hawks this year, in the state semifinals. Urbana plays North Carroll in the 3A West Regional Final today at 6 p.m. "Our confidence is just going up every game," Goertler said. "We're beating the teams that we had trouble with before, and now we want to face Urbana because this is all about revenge."
Part of that revenge came against the Vikings, who pushed the Hawks to a 0-0 tie during the regular season. But River Hill was in top form this time out, and sophomore Sam Goertler, Jamie's younger sister, helped make certain the Hawks wouldn't get shut out again, lofting a perfect pass in front of net in the 25th minute, which Buescher headed past diving Viking keeper Kaitlin Porter for a 1-0 lead.
"Nobody was near me and I just jumped up and hit it clean and watched it slowly roll across the line," Buescher said. "We were all pretty nervous coming in because we'd tied them last time, but our intensity was still up at the beginning and that really helped us."
These clearly were not the same Hawks that slumped in midseason, losing to Wilde Lake and tying three consecutive county games during one stretch. These looked more like the Hawks of early on, the same ones that thumped traditional private school powers St. Mary's and John Carroll and at one point held the No. 1 ranking for two weeks.
"We're playing with confidence, aggressiveness and assertiveness again," said Hawks coach Joan Kelso Smedley. "I'm really proud of them. They were a little nervous before the game, but that's a good thing."
Mount Hebron was no pushover however, and with a little luck, could have gotten at least one goal, maybe more. All-Metro midfielder Julie Napolitano had one of her shots cleared off the line by Hawks defender Shana Myers, and another stopped on a great save by River Hill keeper Erin Ferguson.
"I'm really proud of the way we played," Napolitano said. "We weren't even expected to go that far, so making it here was an accomplishment. We played hard. You can't ask for more than that. They just put the ball in the net and we didn't. They're a good team."
Goertler put the Hawks up 2-0 in the 61st minute with a nice shot from 20 yards out that sneaked just inside the far post after getting a nice pass from Ashley Hooper.