By Kevin O’Rourke
The Northwest Lady Jaguars ended their season on Tuesday night with a 1-0 loss to the defending state champs, Whitman High School, in the finals of the regional tournament at Wootton High School, but they left a mark on the program and the school.
“This is the best girls soccer team that the school has ever had,” Northwest’s principal Lance Dempsey told the girls after the game.
The Lady Jags fought hard against a fast and talented Whitman team, but a goal in the fifth minute by Whitman’s senior captain Clare Severe, on a cross from sophomore forward Alyssa Prill, was all the Vikings needed defeat the Jags.
The play started as Whitman’s senior midfield Maddie Parker controlled and sent the ball to sophomore forward Abby Meyers, who moved it right to Prill, who carried the ball up the side of the field and ripped a crossing pass to Severe who finished for the goal, by bouncing it just past Northwest senior goalkeeper Laura Eckart.
The first half was a test for the Lady Jags, as the unbeaten Whitman Vikings speed was on display. Jags coach Joshua Kinnetz employed a philosophy of stacking players defensively behind the ball and taking chances to go on the offensive when they presented themselves for much of the game.
“Our game plan was to apply the pressure and play organized team defense and when we got our opportunities, counter attack,” said Kinnetz who is ending his fourth season with the Jags.
Under his leadership, Kinnetz has taken the program to new levels. Scheduling tougher more talented teams during the season and guiding his team to 10-6-1 record and a appearance in the Division 4A West Regional Finals.
“This team exemplifies grit,” said Kinnetz. “We have one of the tougher schedules in the county, purposefully. You have to play the best to be the best. It was a process throughout the whole season. We got better and better. That is all a coach can ask for is for a team to get better and build on what they’ve created.”
After giving up the goal, Northwest’s senior keeper turned in a great game to keep the Vikings from getting more goals. In the first half, she managed to get her hands on two balls that would have ended up in the back of the net. One was a punched over the crossbar in the 20th minute, and in another case, Eckart dove to get a hand on a shot which pushed Whitman’s Clare Severe’s shot just right of the goal.
In the second half, the Jaguars turned up the pressure and created more scoring opportunities. In the six minute mark of the second half, Northwest’s midfielder Hannah Crook sent a pass to fellow junior Kelly Miller for a promising cross which was turned aside by a Whitman defender.
A few times, sophomore forward Sydney Glad had opportunities from mid-range but all were just off frame or stopped by the Whitman senior keeper, Erin McClanahan.
With less than 90 seconds remaining a Whitman defender misplayed a headed ball at midfield and sent it racing toward the Whitman zone, with Northwest’s Mireille Gerdes giving chase down the right side of the pitch, but the ball was sent clear of the zone by a Whitman defender.
“The seniors on this team were fantastic,” said Kinnetz. “This is my fourth year in this program, and the seniors each year have helped to build it to what it is now. Our two senior captains Dana Eckerstrom and Katerina Lake they were unreal. They carried this team, and when they picked their level up on the field and they lead by example.”
The Lady Jags were unbeatable in October winning eight games, and tying one, including two wins each over talented teams from Quince Orchard Gaithersburg. The last two wins coming in playoff competition.
However, a 15-0 Whitman High School team proved to be too much for the Lady Jags who have proven that the program should be considered a contender in for the next few years.
Whitman will advance in the state tournament and face Eleanor Roosevelt High School in the State Semifinals at Richard Montgomery High School on Nov. 7 or Nov. 8.
Top: Northwest senior captain Dana Eckstrom (10) chased down Whitman’s senior Clare Severe (13) during the Regional Final Playoff game at Wootton High School on Tuesday night.
Next: Katrina Lake (16), Northwest’s senior captain battles for the ball during Tuesday’s 1-0 playoff loss to Whitman High School.
Next: Junior mid-fielder Hannah Crook (23) sends a pass forward during Tuesday’s playoff game against Whitman High School.
Next: Junior defender Brooke Wallmark (18) heads a ball out of the Northwest zone during Northwest’s 1-0 loss to Whitman in the Regional Final of the 4A West Playoffs.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.