Reservoir's Michelle Viegas, left, watches as her teammate… (Staff photo by Jen Rynda,…)
Reservoir made just one mistake and it cost the Gators a chance to defend their state title.
Huntingtown scored with 16 minutes left in the state Class 3A semifinal Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Essex campus of the Community College of Baltimore County, to claim a 1-0 win and move onto the state championship game next weekend. The Hurricanes will play Urbana, a 1-0 winner over C.M. Wright, in the other semifinal.
Victoria Bellucci scored her 14th goal this season, sending a pass from Micaela Antzoulatos into the lower far corner, for the game-winner.
"They had three people up. We weren't marking her and she got the goal," said sweeper Keri Rager. "We thought we played really well, but they brought it, and we didn't."
"They scored on the one opportunity we gave them," said Reservoir (9-9) coach Josh Sullivan. "That's all it took and then they packed it in.
"I know this stings and (my players) are really hurting now, but I hope they look back and say, man, we really made a heck of a run," he added.
The game was a rematch of last year's state final, won by Reservoir, 1-0. "The tables were turned," said Huntingtown coach Jill Twetten. "I like being on this side of the tables this year."
Last year's loss to Reservoir was a "challenge for us," she added. The Hurricanes "wanted to win more than ever. They've been waiting to get back here since they lost that game last year."
But, she added, praising Reservoir, "I know they've struggled with injuries but they've put together a beautiful team."
For the first half of the season, it looked like Reservoir would not be in any position to reach the final four. Key players were injured and graduation had taken its toll. At one point, the Gators were 1-7. But they swept through the regional playoffs without giving up a goal.
But in the regional championship 3-0 win over Mt. Hebron, Paola Rosa sprained her ankle in the last four minutes of the game. She did not play against Huntingtown (17-1). Then, just 10 minutes into the state semifinal, Taylor Sullivan, who led the Gators with six goals this fall, was injured.
"So that's our strikers," said Josh Sullivan. Injuries "came back and bit us a little. I thought we adjusted well in the first half but we didn't capitalize on our sets."
Even with both strikers out, Reservoir pressured Huntingtown in the middle of the first half. Morgan Bouie and Delaney Reiff had shots; both were saved by keeper Shelby Taylor, who got her 15th shutout of the season with the win over Reservoir.
A few minutes later, Michelle Viegas took a free kick from 45 yards out, but Amy Armstrong's header went wide.
Reservoir keeper Megan Fowler made a save on Huntingtown's best chance with four minutes left in the first half, saving a long shot from Taylor Morton. It was the first save of the game for Fowler; she had three in the contest.
Bellucci had a one-on-one with Fowler to open the second half, but her shot sailed wide and was then negated with an offsides call.
Injuries became a problem again in the middle of the second half with Blair Bonner sidelined for about 10 minutes.
"When she's in the game, our defense is much different," said Sullivan. "She's an imposing figure."
Reservoir had five corner kicks within five minutes after Huntingtown scored, but could not capitalize. Keeper Taylor saved three shots and her defenders cleared the others. "Nobody could get a head" on the corner kicks, said Darci Fehr.
Taylor saved a shot from Fehr, off a pass from Amanda Jackson, with five minutes to play, and Viegas had a free kick 30 yards out with 30 seconds left on the clock, but Taylor saved that one, too.
Taylor has been "perfect all season. I can't think of a time she's made a blunder," said Huntingtown's Twetten. "She's been very impressive."
The loss was tough on the Gators. "We worked so hard to get here," said Viegas. "It's sad because we played so much better" than Huntingtown.
But, she added, "We gave everything we had."