Fighting back from some injuries and facing its sternest test of the season, No. 3 Mount Hebron’s resilient girls soccer team showed the same kind of mettle in a 2-1 victory over seventh-ranked Marriotts Ridge Tuesday night that carried it to a first-ever state title.
In that game last November, then-sophomore Sinclaire Green netted the game’s only goal.
On Tuesday, the powerful forward did not start and logged only 22 minutes in her first action of the season.
Admirably filling the void against the Mustangs as she has done all season against every other opponent, junior forward Leen Jawhar scored both goals in the taut triumph that kept Vikings flawless at 6-0 and stretched their overall winning streak to 16 matches.
Jawhar notched her sixth goal of the 2022 campaign in spectacular fashion in the 32nd minute of a scoreless tussle, coaxing a turnover from a Marriotts Ridge defender and then putting a touch or two on the ball before finishing with a 19-yard strike to the left corner of the net.
”She opened her hips and I saw an opportunity,” said Jawhar, who also plays basketball for the Vikings. “I anticipated where the ball was going to be and I just took the shot.”
Jawhar was at it again in the second half, carefully corralling a beautiful through ball from senior tri-captain Solana Wynn and tipping it over Marriotts Ridge junior keeper Una Remmel’s head for a 2-0 advantage with 23:46 remaining in regulation.
”Solana played a perfect ball in,” she said. “The goalie was coming out and all I had to do was tip it over her head — and I did.”
”Her technique on that shot was fantastic,” Mount Hebron Coach Tim Deppen said, noting that Jawhar’s stellar body control and foot alignment helped her finish the play in a positive manner.
At that point, contesting a team that had not given up a goal during a winning streak that dates back to last fall, Marriotts Ridge (6-2) could have slacked off.
Instead, the Mustangs fought back in a furious way, finally solving junior goalie Claire Fitzsimmons — also returning for her first game of the season — in the 59th minute when senior Giovana Liberto converted a chip from junior Anna Hendrickson to crawl within a goal of equalizing.
Liberto remained dangerous the rest of the way as Marriotts Ridged pressed forward, with her best chance not firmly controlled from point-blank range with eight minutes to go.
In the final seconds, in the middle of another scramble in front of the goal, Fitzsimmons alertly pounced on a loose ball to dash the Mustangs’ comeback hopes.
Despite the defeat, Marriotts Ridge coach Kudzai Dzimiri said that his players remained supportive of each other.”
We’re not used to failure,” he said. “But this is the kind of group that I want to take into the playoffs.”
Deppen said that the end of the Vikings’ scoreless streak is not something he will need to use to motivate his defenders “who are ridiculously focused on not giving up goals.”
To that end, junior tri-captain Ainsley Wilson and sophomore Kaitlyn Magdar, take their job as stingy center-backs very seriously — almost as much as Jawhar does at polishing her craft in the offensive third.
”When she comes off the field she asks, ‘Coach, what can I do to get better,?’” Deppen said. “Last year against River Hill is when she started to get her confidence. This year she has come in stronger and faster, with her left foot as good as her right (foot).”
NO. 3 MOUNT HEBRON 2, NO. 7 MARRIOTTS RIDGE 1
MH 1 1 — 2
MR 0 1 — 1
Goals: MH-Leen Jawhar 2; MR-Giavana Liberto.
Assists: MH-Solana Wynn; MR-Anna Hendrickson.
Saves: MH-Claire Fitzsimmons 8; MR-Una Remmel 2.