After neither team budged in the first half, No. 2 Parkside found glory 41 seconds into the second.
The Rams girls soccer team scored in the box when sophomore midfielder Blair Vilov found a loose ball and scorched it home for the 1-0 lead against the No. 3 Easton Warriors at Wicomico County Stadium on Tuesday evening.
That was all the Rams (9-2-2) needed.
“After that goal, we knew we had to stay strong, and throw-ins were their biggest threat, so we just knew we had to win our throw-ins and just play how we did the first half,” Vilov said.
The Rams beats Easton with their own poison — a throw-in from Rachel Bratten led to Vilov’s goal.
The Warriors Katie Claggett could absolutely heave the ball in from out of bounds. Parkside head coach Brandon Havas said it was Easton’s biggest threat, but the Rams were ready.
“We knew what to expect, but at the same time, we knew they were going to be a tough team to beat,” Havas said. “They have a couple girls up top that are really fast and obviously you saw the girl who can throw the ball. That girl can throw the ball 40 yards if she wanted. It was nothing but clearances on defense, but our defense stepped up.”
It wasn’t that the Rams were just clearing balls at will. Parkside would get possession and then use outlet passes and forward Emily Davis held the ball up in the midfield all night to allow her team to join the rush.
But the Ram doing most of the clearing was senior Maria Gianelle.
“Maria was huge. She was just so big for us back there,” Havas said. “She did not give up anything. I can’t really think of an opportunity in the game that there was really a lapse in the defense.”
Anything long, freshman goalkeeper Miyuki Schoyen had it timed perfectly to snag it away from any oncoming Warriors.
Havas said once she got her timing down, the ball was hers or Easton would foul her.
“Her freshman year has been unreal.”
There was once where in the second half the long throw-in of Claggett escaped even Schoyen’s grasp with 15 minutes remaining.
Ginger Louis had the ball all to herself in the back with Schoyen scrambling to cover the far post, but all the midfielder found was the side netting and once more the pressure was relieved.
“I was worried because you know when you score at the very beginning, it’s going to have a lot of pressure on defense the rest of the game. I think we held up,” Gianelle said.
She said the most pivotal play was in the first half.
A dangerous Calggett throw-in had graced the Rams’ box, but Kelsey Nock had a goal-line clearance with about 25 minutes left in the first half that was Easton’s best chance all game.
“It almost went in and she was back there backing up Miyuki,” Gianelle said.
The Rams advance to the MPSSAA sectional final against Queen Anne’s at 5 p.m. Friday. Parkside lost to Queen Anne’s 3-0, which was right after the 2-1 loss to Stephen Decatur, which defeated the Lions in the Bayside Championship game.
Havas said controlling the ball with the Rams’ feet and maintaining possession will be a key in the vital rematch.
“We kind of better have an idea because it’s so fresh on what to prepare for,” Havas said. “But I’m definitely looking forward to either one of those teams.”
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