Under a beautiful pink sunset sky, the La Plata Warriors hosted the North Point Eagles on Tuesday evening in a pivotal Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Potomac Division girls soccer game. Both teams had just one division loss combined on their records coming into the contest.
Early in the first half, the Eagles’ onslaught of shots were fought off by Warriors goalkeeper Mackenzie Miller who was making just her second start ever as a goalie due to injuries. Miller made key save after key save to keep the score knotted at zero.
North Point (4-3, 3-1 SMAC Potomac) was able to apply pressure with precision passing to weave by the Warriors defense, which forced Miller to make numerous saves in the first 15 minutes in order to keep the game scoreless.
“Mackenzie Miller played a nice game for her second start ever,” La Plata head coach Kevin Barry said.
The Warriors (3-6, 2-2 after a 3-2 loss to Lackey on Wednesday night) responded with a pressuring attack of its own by generating a couple corner kicks late in the first half, but was unable to put any shots past North Point goalkeeper Sydney Johnson.
At halftime, the score was deadlocked at 0-0 with Miller and Johnson making key saves for their respective teams. Both teams were able to generate promising chances despite no goals being scored in the first 40 minutes.
As the second half began, North Point kept applying pressure in its offensive zone by controlling a majority of the time of possession.
The Eagles’ attacking efforts were rewarded when freshman Daniele McCluney got open and found the back of the net with 22 minutes 42 seconds remaining in the game for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
“I was pressuring the ball and I took a good touch and I just shot it,” McCluney said.
North Point was able to add an insurance goal with less than 10 minutes to play off of the foot Kemi Harris.
“I got the ball dropped off to me, took a touch, dribbled past the defender and shot it,” Harris said.
Eagles head coach Kiante Webb noted what was a key factor in the two plays that translated into goals for his team.
“A lot of patience, moving the ball with two and three touches and we just created,” Webb said. “We have been doing that for the last four games, and I told them if they stick to it, the outcome will come. I told our team it is not going to be easy, but if we stick to the plan and keep doing it and doing it with the repetitions, you finally find the net. Simple soccer leads to simple goals.”
With the win, North Point’s record climbed over the .500 mark and gives the team confidence heading into the final stretch of the season.
“I think this is a great win for us. It puts us at 4-3. It gives us a lot of confidence because we had a rough start to begin the season, but we are young,” Webb said. “We start seven freshmen and I have one starting senior, so this is our rebuilding year, but we are building during the rebuilding and it is looking good. For the middle of the season, I think it looks great going into the second half of the season and to get ready for playoffs.”
McCluney echoed the response of her coach when asked what the win means for her team moving forward.
“It is a big win because we just had evened up our record at 3-3, so now we are 4-3 and this win is a big confidence booster I think and will help us,” she said.
The Eagles will be back in action at 6 p.m. Tuesday when they host Great Mills.
Despite the loss, Barry was proud of the effort his team put forth.
“It was a hard-fought game. North Point is a solid team,” Barry said. “I felt like we were in it all the way and they were able to get the ball in the goal and their keeper made some nice saves on our opportunities. We just didn’t capitalize on the right moments. We have to keep pushing forward. We got three more games in conference, so we have to learn from it and move on.”
The Warriors will take the field again at 6 p.m. Monday at Patuxent.