BALTIMORE — When the Northern girls soccer team headed to the center of the field for the introductions of the rosters at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex prior to the start of Saturday’s Class 3A state championship game against Wilde Lake of Howard County, the Patriots acknowledged the announcements with a genuine calm.
Northern (17-3 overall) may not have enjoyed a perfect run to the 3A state title this fall, but the Patriots were nothing short of flawless while trouncing Wilde Lake 5-0 to win the program’s second straight state title.
Junior Rachel Deresky scored the Patriots’ first goal less than three minutes into the game and added two more goals in the second half to cap a stellar, four-goal performance.
“Rachel is one of those players that you have to account for, otherwise she’s going to score goals like she did tonight,” Northern head coach John Battle said. “But if you double her, then we have other forwards who can make things happen offensively and score goals. Today they opted not to double her so she scored four goals.”
Deresky scored the game’s first goal on a free kick, then moments later junior Sarah Eliff sent a corner kick into the box that might have been intended for Deresky. But the Wildecats collapsed on her, so Kathryn Lawless fed Nicole Bissett with a soft pass that Bissett delivered for a goal that gave the Patriots an early 2-0 lead.
“We have so many good players that everything opens up for me,” said Deresky, who has already verbally committed to Vanderbilt University. “Our forwards are so good and the midfielders are good at feeding the ball up top. We all worked so good together today. It really was a total team effort. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my teammates.”
Wilde Lake (14-5-1) had reached the 3A girls soccer title match courtesy of a senior defensive group and the Wildecats had made the most of their modest goal tally during the season and into their postseason run. But after yielding a pair of early goals to Deresky and facing a 3-0 deficit at the intermission, Wilde Lake faced an impossible hurdle.
“We knew they had a lot of talented players up top,” Wildecats head coach Megan Shea said. “Their girls really passed the ball well and if we didn’t double team [Deresky], then she scored. Maybe we should have double-teamed her a little more. But I was very proud of these girls. Most people thought this was going to be a rebuilding year for us, but we beat a lot of really good teams.”
Northern owned a 3-0 lead at halftime and it could have been worse. At one point, Deresky tracked down a pass from Lawless at the top of the box, beat the nearest Wilde Lake defender and launched a shot that sailed just wide of the target. In the festive media session that followed the game, Deresky could laugh off the near miss.
“You can’t score on all of them,” Deresky said. “I turned and shot it and just missed. But that happens.”
Deresky virtually sealed the verdict in the opening minute of the second half when she took a centering pass from Eliff and drilled a shot into the lower left corner of the net. Just over 10 minutes later, she chased down another pass and tallied again. She was denied another goal on a crisp, left-footed shot that sailed just left.
The Patriots virtually emptied their bench with 12 minutes remaining.
Their 5-0 lead was so commanding that Deresky, Eliff, Lawless and all but two starters were replaced at the same time and the Patriots reserves still maintained control of the possessions for the remainder of the outing.
“It was great to win a second straight title,” Eliff said. “But we’re already focused on coming back here again next year.”
“We definitely want to win another one,” Deresky added.