- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Patuxent girls soccer team trailed most its game against visiting Thomas Stone.
Then, an unexpected call and unlikely turn of events helped the Panthers escape with a 2-1 overtime win on Thursday.
Patuxent, which faced Leonardtown on Tuesday evening, too late for inclusion into this edition, won for the seventh time in eight games this season, but head coach Rico Aris is not surprised.
He said a pair of 2-1 losses last year, one to the Cougars which began a late season four-game slide as well as a crushing, last-minute loss to Southern of Anne Arundel County in the Class 2A South Region quarterfinals, is motivating his team.
“They know what happened to us last year,” Aris said. “That’s our fuel.”
Stone head coach Andrew Prozik said the one-goal loss is typical of his team’s season.
“It’s been the story of our season. We’re losing all these games by one goal or two goals and this one I think was in our grasp, we let it go in the last few seconds,” Prozik said. “We’ve been playing with good teams and we know we can play with good teams, we just have to get over that hump and get the win instead of just saying we’re playing well with them.”
The Panthers (7-1, 7-1 SMAC) appeared to be on their way to their second loss over their last three games as they trailed 1-0 in the waning seconds. But a collision in the Stone box was ruled a shove and Dana King buried a controversial penalty kick with 12 seconds left.
Stone goalkeeper Brandi Conley, who was magnificent throughout the match, and teammate Jade Green were then subsequently ejected from the game after receiving red cards over their displeasure with the call. Both missed Tuesday night’s home game against Calvert, which finished too late for inclusion into this edition.
With the Cougars (3-4, 3-4) two players down in overtime, Patuxent had several opportunities early in the extra period. Backup keeper Katlynn Cooksey made a sensational save in the first minute of overtime when she dove to corral a ball that was slithering toward the goal line.
Moments later, Cierra Fenwick raced down the left side and drilled a shot short side to end the game, whereupon she was subsequently mobbed by her teammates.
“I just saw a hole and took it there,” Fenwick said. “I was tempted to go [far side], but she was just giving me too much space [short side].”
Stone came out fast and had some good chances and finally opened the scoring ion the 31st minute when Armone Williams converted on a bouncing ball in the box.
“We got off to a rough start and we talked about how we needed to regain our composure and show we wanted to be here and we wanted to win,” Patuxent’s Savannah Read said.
“I had told my girls, ‘Be ready because they’re going to come out hard and hungry,’” Aris said.
The Cougars led 1-0 at halftime, thanks in large part to its defense, which blocked seven shots, five in the first half.
“A lot of our shots were blocked or we didn’t have our bodies set,” Aris said. “The shots were being taken, but we still have that option to get one more touch to position ourselves for better shots.”
Stone held the lead until the final minute thanks to its defense and to some stellar saves by Conley, including numerous highlight reel stops. She finished with 16 saves.
“I felt ready,” Conley said, “and as I kept making saves, I felt I was more in the game.”
“She’s done that for us all year,” Prozik said. “She’s been a rock back there. She makes all the saves she’s supposed to make and then some.”
Fenwick added, “She was a great goalie, we couldn’t get anything in the goal.”
Conley made her best save when she scooped up Karissa Fenwick’s penalty kick in the 51st minute.
“I thought about the [successful] penalty kick [against me] at the Huntingtown game,” said Conley, referring to the 1-0 Stone loss to the Hurricanes on Sept. 28. “Afterward, my dad said always go right, they always go right and I went right and got it.”
Read said the Panthers are eyeing a state title.
“We want to win states and it’s not just saying we want to win but show we want to win by coming out on the field and working hard together and it’s been successful,” Read said. “We’re playing together as a team. [Tonight] it’s definitely a lesson not to overlook anybody and a good lesson that even when you’re down anything came happen as long as you’re pushing yourself and showing you want it.”
Patuxent 2, Thomas Stone 1 (OT)
Stone 1 0 0
Patuxent 0 1 1
Goals: Stone (Williams); Patuxent (King, C. Fenwick)
Saves: Stone (Conley 16, Cooksey 2); Patuxent (Jackson 8)