BALTIMORE — As the final minute ticked down in the second overtime period of Saturday’s Class 2A girls soccer state championship at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex, Calvert head coach John Baker was preparing for penalty kicks.
With the score knotted at 1, the Cavaliers and the Knights of Middletown were locked in a tightly contested battle for the state title.
After sending her team into the state championship contest with an overtime winner over Century in the state semifinal a week earlier, Cavaliers senior London Lewis followed a shot by junior Bridget Harris and found herself with a prime opportunity in front of her to be the hero once again.
“My goal this year was just to keep finishing,” Lewis said. “During the [regular] season we have easier and harder games, but throughout SMAC I felt that personally I didn’t execute in the harder games this year.”
Lewis was able to finish with a state title on the line, sending a shot into the back of the net with 35 seconds left after Middletown goalkeeper Kylie Wells made a diving save on Harris’ initial shot.
“I honestly thought Bridget scored. She had an open spot and took a good strike, but the [Middletown] keeper made a good save,” Lewis said. “Throughout the season, we have always stressed follow your shots, and when I saw that ball get deflected I worked my butt off to get there.”
After Lewis’ shot went into the back of the net, she sprinted toward midfield as her Cavaliers’ teammates met her to celebrate.
“I honestly was thinking this is my chance and I can’t mess this up. I knew that we didn’t want to go to PKs and the time was ticking down,” Lewis said. “That was probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. For me to finish in two of the biggest games I’ve ever played in was just a great accomplishment.”
Calvert (14-3 overall) trailed 1-0 in the second half until Lewis’ tally with about 22 minutes left tied the score at 1.
“London is fantastic. Everyone sees what she does on the soccer field, but she is so much more than that,” Baker said. “She’s a standout in the classroom and wherever she goes. I’m very proud of everything she has done. She steps up in big moments and is not afraid to put the team on her shoulders when she has to.”
The Cavaliers trailed 1-0 at halftime despite controlling most of the possession and generating numerous scoring chances.
“Middletown capitalized on their chance and put a beautiful header into the back of the net. They played hard and are a great team,” Baker said. “I told our girls we were controlling the game and to just keep doing what we were doing. We made some halftime adjustments and shifted our shape a little bit to get some more pressure because we felt we were sitting behind the ball too much in the finishing third.”
Middletown (16-3), of Frederick County, scored with about six minutes left in the first half on a header from senior Ali Robinson off of a corner kick.
“We played hard and I am really proud of what we did,” Knights head coach Heather Kline said. “We knew we needed to know where [Lewis] was. That was no surprise to us, but this was just a really good soccer game.”
Calvert lost the last three years in the postseason to Howard County’s River Hill, including a 2-1 defeat in the state final in 2016 when this year’s class of seniors were freshmen. Some were on the varsity squad for that tight loss.
“I was here freshman year when we lost 2-1 to River Hill, and I am happy that we finally got to experience a win,” Cavaliers senior Claire Williams said. “In big games, [London] gets it done [for us]. I’m just happy she’s on my team because if it wasn’t for her, we probably wouldn’t be here.”
Baker noted that Calvert’s six seniors were the team’s captains and leaders all year.
“This group of six seniors were our captains, and most of them have started and played since they were freshmen. They really became leaders this year, and it was really a team effort from all of them,” Baker said. “These girls fight hard. We train year round. I get them in the weight room in January. For them to finally get rewarded, it is great to experience the winning side of it this year, especially for the ones who were freshmen to seniors now.”