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Knights end title chase on schedule

November 21, 2004|by CHRIS CARTER/Staff Correspondent

CATONSVILLE, Md. - With the score tied at halftime and its state title hopes in the balance, the Middletown girls soccer team was on track to be in familiar, but uneasy territory.

The territory was overtime and the the Knights knew it all too well after their four overtime losses this season.

But Whitney Boyer made sure it played no role Saturday in the Maryland Class 2A state championship match against James M. Bennett at UMBC Stadium.

The junior forward took Amanda Kinna's deflected shot and redirected it over Clippers goalkeeper Brittany Curtis in the third minute of the second half to lift Middletown to the 1-0 win to the state title.

It was Middletown's first state title since sharing the crown in 2000. It's the first time the Knights have won the championship outright since 1990.

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"I saw Amanda's shot bounce out of their goalie's arms and then it was just an automatic reaction," Boyer said. "It was big to be able to get it so fast (after halftime) because it gave us confidence and we didn't want to go to overtime."

"At halftime I said that we needed to pick up the pace if we wanted to win the game," Middletown coach Heather Kline said. "We played a good first half, but we knew we had to do a little more if we wanted to get in the net. It turned out to be just a good bounce."

The first half was a seesaw battle with each team exchanging posessions with chances to score.

The Knights had eight first-half shots on goal, but were kept out by Curtis - an All-State First Team selection - and the Clippers had nine shots, most of which sailed high, wide and off-target.

Except for Boyer's goa,l it was business as usual for Curtis, who had allowed only four goals coming into the title game.

"We knew their keeper was tough so we it was important to try and get as many shots as we could," Boyer said.

Middletown seemed to get more of a handle on the game after capturing the lead. The Knights had the ball on J.M. Bennett's end of the field for much of the second half and seniors Angie Harvey and Ali Keeney helped keep it away from the Clippers.

"In practice we tried different things we thought they would try to do," Keeney said. "We stepped it up and did what we needed to do."

Middletown had a chance to put the game away on a penalty kick with under a minute left. But the kick was pulled to the left of the goal, giving J.M. Bennett had one last opportunity.

With 20 seconds left the Clippers had a corner kick to tie, but a Middletown defender was there to block it from the goal. Bennett's Jessica Peyton managed to get a handle on it and got off a shot, but it was wide and time expired.

"Coming in, we knew they were a talented team and it was going to be tough," Kline said. "As long as we played our type of game, we thought we would win."

But with the great feelings of winning a state championship also came bittersweetness for the seniors.

"I am so happy that we won. It's one of the best feelings you can have," said Harvey, who returned from a season-long injury to help lead the Knights. "It's been such a fun time playing with this team and everything. I'm really going to miss it."

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