Severna Park's girls soccer team began the season with a wait-and-see attitude and concluded yesterday with a we-showed-you exclamation.
Senior midfielder Kathryn Lindler provided the Falcons with the happy ending in a steady rain at UMBC Stadium, finishing a cross in the 80th minute that gave the No. 4 team a 2-1 victory over No. 11 Bel Air and the Class 3A state championship.
The game-winner came less than one minute after the Bobcats had tied the game on a penalty kick, lifting the Falcons (15-1-2) to their first state title at the 3A level after winning four in 4A.
"This team this year - I've said it the last three times - just finds a way to win," said Severna Park coach Gary Lam. "At 1:38, they put a penalty kick on us and then to score a minute later when you're struggling to score all game - it's unbelievable. But that's how it's been all year."
For pre-game introductions, the Falcons asked not to be introduced individually, but as a team. That's the approach the players had taken all season after losing nine seniors and six starters from last year's team.
"We deserve it. A lot of people never thought we could do it, but we worked hard," Lindler said. "I think [losing six starters] made everybody step up and work 10 times harder because we knew we didn't have the big key players like we did last year. So we all came together."
All the scoring came late in the second half.
Junior Katie White gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead with 10:26 remaining, taking a short through ball from Zara Nematollahi and neatly finding the near post from 10 yards with her left foot.
With the Falcons only minutes away from the win, Bel Air's standout striker, Colby Bugda, was taken down in the box for a penalty kick, which Brittany Rothenbach converted.
But it was Lindler, White and the Falcons who had the final say.
White found rare space on the right side and sent the ball across to Lindler waiting at the far post.
"They finally gave me a little room to play and I just did all I could to get it across the field. Kathryn was on the back post to finish it," White said. "I don't think it hit me yet, but I know it's going to feel great when it does."
The Bobcats, a second-half team throughout the postseason with come-from-behind wins over Franklin and Calvert to reach their second championship game in three years, played well in falling just short.
"It's tough, but I'm proud of the team," Bugda said. "We worked so hard during the game. Everybody put everything they had out there. There's nothing else we could have done."