E. Tech wraps up first 2A title, 1-0

Kobal's late header dethrones Middletown

Girls soccer

High schools


As the clock wound down in the second half of last night's state Class 2A girls soccer final, Eastern Tech striker Courtney Kobal thought one opening could give the No. 12 Mavericks chance enough to win the title.

When freshman Rachel Tragesar sent a high bouncing cross in front of the goal, Kobal saw that opening. The sophomore leaped to head the ball over Middletown goalie Rachelle Burhman for the game-winner.

The Mavericks celebrated their first state title with the 1-0 victory that dethroned the defending champion Knights at UMBC Stadium. The title was especially sweet for the Mavericks (11-2-1), because it came on the heels of four straight semifinal losses.

"I don't know if there are any words to describe the feeling," Kobal said. "We worked so hard during the season and it paid off."

The Mavericks faced a rebuilding season after graduating a stellar core of seniors, losing one player to illness and another, 6-foot striker Katie McKay, for much of the season to a knee injury.

Coach Kim Williams said her team grew throughout the season and everything came together in the regional and state playoffs.

"I have five or six juniors who have been playing varsity since their freshman or sophomore year, so they've been in this type pressure before," she said. "I might have had a little bit more talent last year, but the group I have now, they really want to work hard. They give their all in every practice and every game. That's what made the difference this year."

In a state final that featured few offensive opportunities for either team, the Mavericks made the connection that sealed the title outright in the 64th minute.

Mavericks midfielder Cindi Nickles liked the play from the start.

"I saw [Kobal] and I was like, `She's going to flick it.' I knew she would. You could feel it before it even happened," Nickles said.

Through most of the second half, the Mavericks had the upper hand against the Knights (10-8-1). After Eastern Tech keeper Kelly Gallagher saved Danielle DePierro's direct kick early in the second half, the Mavericks dominated play.

Late in the half, Williams turned to her bench.

"When we hit the 20th minute, halfway through the second half, we could see they were getting tired," said Williams. "At that point, we just kept subbing. We subbed two players at a time every two minutes. We just kept putting fresh bodies out there. That break came, we got the goal and you can't ask for more."katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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