The Loch Raven girls soccer team did everything that was needed to bring home the Class 1A state championship against Harford Tech on Saturday afternoon at UMBC Stadium.
The Raiders got the all-important first goal from sophomore midfielder Kayla Toole late in the first half and then stayed persistent the rest of the way to make sure it would hold. The result was a 1-0 win over Harford Tech for the program's sixth state title and first since 2003.
After the Loch Raven girls' victory, the Raiders boys defeated Pocomoke, 3-2 in overtime, at UMBC. It's the eighth time that the same school captured state soccer titles in the same season.
In addition to Toole's goal, her first of the season, the Raiders (14-4-1) got strong two-way play from senior midfielder Sarah Krejcik and tight marking from the defenders in front of senior goalie Danielle DeLisle (four saves).
As the final seconds wound down, DeLisle, a four-year starter and captain, took a look at the scoreboard, then raised her arms as senior sweeper Emily Goodman raced to her. The rest of the Raiders weren't far behind.
"It's the best feeling in the world," DeLisle said. "That last minute I stayed focused for about 55 seconds - I saw the clock at five and heard the crowd screaming and I just thought, 'Wow, this is it - we're state champions.' "
After the game's first 20 minutes were played on even terms, the Raiders picked up their pace and controlled play the rest of the first half.
After Kara Kleinhammer had two chances in front turned away by diving saves from Harford Tech goalie Brittney Lozzi, the Raiders were finally able to break through when Toole scored with 5:56 to play in the first half.
Toole settled in the middle to connect on a long throw from Kleinhammer, placing a shot just inside the left corner from 14 yards.
"It was awesome. I was coming off an [ankle] injury, so I was just honored to get to play in the game, and scoring was great because I helped the team and we were working really hard," Toole said.
Loch Raven kept the ball for most of the second half to protect the lead. The Cobras (10-4-2) had a chance midway through the second half when Erica Coley sent a ball in from the right side, but defender Samantha Knapp was tightly marking Jackie Messenger to clear the ball from danger. With 2:50 to play, Messenger had a free kick on the right side that was cleanly handled by DeLisle.
Despite the loss, Harford Tech coach Matt Berg was quick to praise his team, which was making the program's first state playoff appearance.
"First time ever here, so you've got to give credit to the kids this year; they worked real hard," Berg said.
Goals: LR-Toole. Saves: HT-Lozzi 5; LR-DeLisle 4. Half: LR, 1-0.