It was a cold and dreary evening as the Northwest Jaguars took the field to play in their second straight Regional Finals appearance at Wootton High School on Tuesday night. They girls played hard through the mist and drizzle but came away on the losing end again this year.
The Lady Jags fell 1-0 to a Churchill team that had lost just one game all season. Churchill scored in the waning seconds of the first half, as senior forward Juliana Comer launched a rising shot that flew just beyond the reach of Jags goalkeeper Morgan O’Brien.
In the first half, and most of the game the Bulldogs were able to keep possession and keep the ball out of their own end of the field. While both teams played a great defensive game, Churchill was able to capitalize on a single defensive breakdown.
“I was pleased with our performance,” said Northwest Head Coach Josh Kinnetz. Churchill’s is a solid, all-around team. They effectively put us under pressure, but we consistently denied them quality opportunities on goal.”
Both teams back lines worked hard to deny the other offensive opportunities. However, it was Churchill that was able to maintain possession more often.
While Northwest came out in the second half and were able to push forward and get more looks at the Churchill goal, it came with the cost of putting more pressure on their goalkeeper. The junior keeper came up with a number of great saves to keep the Churchill goal tally at just one.
“Morgan has done well for herself this season. A lot was asked of her replacing a three-year starter,” said Kinnetz, referring to Laura Eckart, who is now playing at Goucher College in Baltimore. “This was a crucial learning year where she gained valuable experience that will help her learn from her mistakes and build on her successes. She kept us in the game second half, and that’s all you can ask from your keeper.”
Kinnetz said he was most happy about the games from his three senior starters, Hannah Crook, Andrea Rodriguez and Brooke Wallmark.
“Hannah covered so much ground defensively in the midfield and continued to play superb set piece kicks that were always dangerous,” said Kinnetz of Crook, who has committed to play soccer at Clark University in Worcester, Ma, next season.
He also praised Rodriguez’s play in last night’s game. “Andrea’s ability on the ball allowed time for our attack to generate. She was key to our better offensive play second half,” he said. Andrea Rodriguez will continue her soccer career at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg.
Kinnetz said that Wallmark was another big reason the Bulldogs attack was held to just one goal, for the just the third time this season. “Brooke’s physical presence was felt by Churchill’s front line. She continually placed hard tackles and thwarted Churchill’s attackers,” he said of Wallmark, who will be playing at Gettysburg College next year.
Despite the loss, the program’s second straight appearance in the regional finals is a significant achievement for a program that had not been to the regional finals in the history of the school, before last year.
“Making it to the sweet sixteen in the state tournament in consecutive seasons marks our transformation from a good team in the county to a perennially elite team in the county,” said Kinnetz. “Taking nothing away from the accomplishment of last year’s team, this was a better performance in the regional final. Last year we were a bit awe-struck being in the regional final including myself, this year we knew what to expect and how to prepare accordingly. Despite the result, we progressed as a program.”
“We expect to play in this game next year and win, and that’s the progression. We hold each other accountable and own this high expectation. We have developed a winning culture. I couldn’t have asked any more from the team; they were prepared, executed the game plan, and were in it the whole way,” said Kinnetz. “I’m excited for all three of these players to take the next step in their playing career on the collegiate level.”
Churchill will play Broadneck at Richard Montgomery High School on this Saturday, Nov. 14 at noon. The other Montgomery County team to make it to the state semifinals is Sherwood who will play Catonsville also at Richard Montgomery on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 2:30 pm.
Top: Northwest junior forward Daniela Galvez (10) fights for the ball between Churchill players Bergan Babrowicz (18) and Caroline Grundy (10) during Tuesday night’s regional final matchup.
Next: Northwest’s senior midfielder Hannah Crook (23) brings the ball through the middle of the field and into the Churchill attacking zone.
Next: Senior midfielder Andrea Rodriguez (17) send the ball deep into the Churchill zone.
Next: Jags senior defender Brook Wallmark (18) brings the ball up the sideline.
Next: The Lady Jaguars junior forward Hannah Godsey (14) attempts to set up a teammate for a shot in the attacking third as Churchill’s Molly Olcott works to steal the ball away.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.