Faced with its first halftime deficit all season, the Severna Park girls soccer team turned up the intensity and then turned to its talented underclassmen to spearhead the comeback yesterday.
Freshmen Lauren Stafford and Sam Young got the tying and game-winning goals as the No. 5 Falcons rallied from a two-goal deficit to upend host Leonardtown, 3-2, in the Class 3A South regional final.
The Falcons (15-1) will play No. 2 River Hill, the 3A East champion, on Friday in a rematch of last year's regional final that Severna Park won in overtime.
Young converted a cross from Emily Zido, also a freshman, for the game-winner with about five minutes to play.
Eight minutes earlier, it was Young who set up Stafford, a freshman midfielder, with a low pass across the box. Stationed near the back post, Stafford finished to tie the score with the Raiders (11-4-1) at 2-2.
Sophomore Kiley Williams started the comeback with a successful penalty kick five minutes after intermission, where Falcons coach Gary Lam urged his team to play harder.
"We didn't discuss X's and O's; we talked about having intensity and heart," said Lam, whose team surrendered both goals off Raiders' set pieces. "Our legs looked tired, we weren't winning any 50/50 balls. We just had to go in a little harder and be more aggressive and that made the difference for us."
No. 3 Century 3, Liberty 0: Kelly Kasper and Brittany Eger scored first-half goals within 1:34 of each other, staking the host Knights (14-2-1) to an early lead in a victory over the Lions in the 2A West final.
No. 9 Eastern Tech 2, Hereford 0: The host Mavericks (16-2) took the 2A North title for the third straight year behind two goals from senior forward Erika Stimmel - both assisted by sophomore Katie McKay.
Franklin 1, No. 13 Fallston 1: Fullback Zohreh Karami scored the clinching goal in a 4-2 shootout victory over the visiting Cougars (10-5-2) in the 3A North regional final.
The Indians (13-3) got shootout goals from Katie Bosley, Nicole Wilner, Ashley Harris and Karami as well as pair of outstanding saves from Brittany Roberts to break a 1-1 tie through double overtime.
Oakland Mills 1, Poolesville 1: The Scorpions upset the Indians (8-3-2), the defending 1A state champions, in the South region final, winning the game on penalty kicks, 4-3, after the score was tied through regulation and 20 minutes of overtime.
The Scorpions (5-7-1) entered the playoffs with just three wins and had not won a playoff game in three years, but Megan Shea scored Oakland Mills' lone goal during regulation and freshman Bali Boule made the game-winning penalty kick.
Westlake 2, No. 15 Severna Park 1: Tim Remo scored in the 67th minute to break a tie, lifting the top-seeded and host Wolverines (14-2-1) to the 3A South championship and ending the 30-year career of Falcons coach Don Gregg.
The Wolverines took their first lead early in the game on Ryan Russell's goal, but the second-seeded Falcons (11-4-2), who outshot Westlake 24-11, tied the score in the 49th minute on sophomore Taylor Young's goal.
Gregg won more than 300 games, 14 Anne Arundel County championships and two state championships during his run with the Falcons.
"Right now it's kind of empty, like you let the air out of your tires," Gregg said.
"But you move on and let someone else take over. We had our ups and downs. Sometimes when you leave there's nothing left to come back to. There's going to be a good nucleus for a team next year. Sometimes there's nothing left. They'll be fine."
No. 3 River Hill 1, Wilde Lake 0: Theo Byrd's goal defeated the Wildecats (9-7-1) in the 3A East final at Howard and lifted the Hawks (16-1) to their seventh regional title in eight years.
Kenwood 1, Thomas Johnson 0: Senior Andy Gallagher scored four minutes into the first overtime to help the Bluebirds (9-5-2) beat Thomas Johnson at CCBC-Dundalk to capture the 4A North crown, their first regional soccer championship.