Meghan Piazza got the ball into the 18-yard box. She felt like she needed to end the game.
Crofton High coach Travis Bonfigli knew she was going to end the game. Maddy Cook knew it too.
Piazza cut inside, beat the Towson defender, and slotted the ball into the back of the night. Piazza’s goal was a golden one, the lone score in the Cardinals’ 1-0 win over the Generals in Class 3A state quarterfinal girls soccer match, Friday night in Anne Arundel County.
“Right before the first overtime period, coach Travis came up to me and said I was going to get the game-winner,” Piazza said. “When the ball came to my foot, I kind of realized ‘this is it, this is my time to shoot and score.’”
Bonfigli saw that his team could finish the game as the winners. The first 25 minutes of the game, Towson came out with a press, something he and the Cardinals (13-3-1 overall) weren’t expecting. After scrambling to get on top of the press, Crofton settled into the game.
Cook, from her defensive midfield position, helped clear away Towson attacks. If the Generals pushed past Cook’s position, the Cardinal back line steered the attack away.
“It was comforting knowing they were back there,” Cook said. “They shut it down.”
After Crofton found itself through Towson’s press, it was able to win 50-50 balls, and find chances of its own. Alana Morris found Sydney Young down the field with a through ball. Young’s shot was saved by General goalie Jenna Paraska.
“We were scrambling, trying to figure out what was going on,” Bonfigli said. “We finally settled down. We started to find feet.”
Paraska stepped in for the Generals with normal keeper Mary Claire Heubeck out with illness. She was able to stop every chance the Cardinals had, except for PIazza’s open look to end the game.
“She was right there to step up and fill (Heubeck’s) shoes,” Towson coach Lauren Hanley. “She did an incredible job. We couldn’t have asked her to do anything more than what she gave tonight.”
The Cardinals found an attacking touch in the second half. Morris had a shot deflected out for a corner kick. Crofton had three more corner attempts in quick succession. No success, though, but the Cardinals felt that they were on the brink of a breakthrough.
Working through the end of regulation and the start of overtime, Crofton had more chances. Morris passed across goal to Arya Shah, who’s shot was just wide.
That’s why Bonfigli said to Piazza, one of Crofton’s best offensive weapons, that he knew she was going to have the game winner.
And when the ball came to her, and she made a turn into goal, there was almost no question that the shot was going in the net.
“There’s no way she’s missing this,” Bonfigli said.
Piazza put her team through to the final four of the state. A team in its second year is knocking on the door of a state championship appearance.
“Making it to state semifinals our second year,” Cook said. “It’s insane.”
CLASS 3A STATE QUARTERFINAL
CROFTON 1, TOWSON 0
GOALS: Crofton - Meghan Piazza.
SAVES: Towson - Jenna Paraska 4; Crofton- Abby Makela 3.