By Donald Daniels
Each time Roland Park made to the soccer conference championship, it always ended with the Reds watching their opponents hoist the glass bowl , this time around the Reds were the ones who able to celebrate. Reds freshman Georgia Szoke, who scored the game-winning goal against Mount de Sales in the semi-final round, knocked in another game-winning goal for Roland Park who edged Maryvale Prep 2-1 in a come-from-behind victory for the IAAM B Conference soccer championship.
“This is just amazing, after having an undefeated season in conference and to get this championship after losing so many times before is just incredible,” Roland Park coach Kelly Pierce said. “Everyone really stepped and that showed tonight.”
Senior Mia Clary added the other score for the Reds who won the first soccer championship school history at Anne Arundel Community College on Saturday. The Reds also end the season with a perfect 9-0 B conference record and the end season with a record of 13-2-1.
“This really great because it is our first win [conference soccer championship] this was a really good experience and I am happy that we were able to finish the season undefeated,” Szoke said.
“We were just trying to keep our streak going and we got letters from alumni because everyone was so excited, we had a great turn out so we wanted to do it for all of them,” Clary said.
Freshman Amani Green was all over the field for the Reds causing problems for the Lions on both ends of the field. Green nearly gave Roland Park the lead, at the 25 minute mark Green struck the ball from the left sideline and nearly went into the lower corner of the net, but it was a few yards off.
Maryvale Prep (10-8-2) struck first on the scoreboard when freshman Kennedy Koehler delivered a beautiful touch pass to junior Abby Miller, who drove the pass a diving Julia Zahn putting the Lions up 1-0 with just under 19 minutes in the first half. Roland Park struggled to find their rhythm as the one goal advantage held Maryvale Prep as they were looking to win their first soccer championship since 2008.
“During halftime we just had to make some adjustments to our midfield and because of that we were able to generate better shots,” Pierce said.
Lion senior goalkeeper Grace Morgan (five saves) thwarted two point blank shots on goal from the Reds with diving saves to preserve the Maryvale Prep lead early in the second half. Roland Park remained vigilant and broke through when Clary boomed in score from 30-yards out off a free kick to tie the game with 25 minutes left in regulation.
“There was just a wall of defenders in front and I just wanted to curve the ball around them and get it into the ball corner of the net,” Clary said.
Szoke found the back of the net at the 17 minute and 44 second mark after the freshman was able sprint past a Lion defender and sneak the ball pass Morgan into right corner to give the Reds the lead.
“For me it was all about speed and strength, I knew that if was able to get the defender off of me I had a good chance to score that goal,” Szoke said.
“Georgia [Szoke] just has the ability to create something out of nothing and that is what she did,” Pierce said.
Things didn’t quite as planned for the Lions after two Red goals. Maryvale Prep best chance at tying game came with less than one and 30 seconds when sophomore Abby Miller was a just a few feet ahead of several Reds defenders passed the ball to Miller, but Zahn charged out of the net, scooped up and punted the ball into the midfield. Roland Park held possession until the final horn to secure the title.
“The journey was wonderful, ”Maryvale Prep coach Colin Devlin said. The journey was remarkable, this is the best record we have had and this is the first championship game we have played in ten years. Roland Park is a great team, they went undefeated for a reason and I am glad we fought hard tilt end.”