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North girls reach region final

November 05, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

HAGERSTOWN -- "Tiger" earned her stripes on Thursday.

Lindsay Irving -- AKA Tiger to her friends and teammates -- prowled back and forth in her cage -- better known as the soccer goal she defends -- waiting for her chances. While many of those chances were to defend her turf, she had one opportunity to pounce.

The North Hagerstown goalkeeper coolly delivered an inside-out shot just inside the right edge of the goal in the eighth round of penalty kicks. It gave the Hubs a 5-4 advantage in the extra kicks and a 2-1 victory over Poolesville in the Maryland 2A West semifinals at Mike Callas Stadium.

"I did it for my team," Irving said in the middle of the noise and ruckus that comes with a sudden victory. "I just wanted to get it done and come back for all the hugs. This is the best feeling in the world."

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And why not? After spending 100 minutes and eight rounds of penalty kicks defending the goal. What could be better than popping in the game-winner herself. With the victory, North (14-1-1) will host the winner of tonight's Winters Mill-Middletown game on Tuesday for the West title.

"She's our leader," North coach Rick Aleshire said. "I knew the minute she walked out on the field for that shot it was going in. She's like Michael Jordan."

Fifteen kicks were taken with eight finding their mark -- good for four scores on each side -- before Irving stepped to the line.

Irving went through her routine and turned to face Poolesville goalkeeper Kate Frost from the 12-yard mark. On her approach, Irving seemingly struck the ball with the outside of her right foot and into the goal, just out of Frost's reach to seal the victory. It was the third penalty kick she had scored on in her prep career, but first while playing goalkeeper.

"It was all part of my process," she said. "I set up the balls and go over and drop my gloves. I knew I was going to make it. I was shooting to her weak side. Most right-footed players lean to their strong side, I tried to go to the left."

Both teams charged the goal after the shot. North was sweeping up Irving in the emotions of victory while Poolesville engulfed Frost to soothe her despair.

Frost had the opportunity to put the Falcons up as the kicker to start the eighth round. She tried to go over the top of Irving, but the ball sailed over the goal.

The teams played to a 1-1 tie through the 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods. They were tied at 3-3 after the first five penalty kicks as Jackie Keller, Katelyn Goodnough and Courtney Boschert all scored for the Hubs, but were offset by goals by Poolesville's Mary Believau, Nicole Clements and Caitlin Kelly.

The Falcons' Ali Nesselt scored to leadoff the sixth round but she was matched by the Hubs' Meredith Perini. Seventh-round misses set up the curtain call for Irving.

Lost in the shuffle was the 1-1 battle that created the overtime drama.

North took a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute as Katie Ritter dribbled the ball uncontested down the right side, starting from midfield. She scored off a wide angle from 10 yards out, which passed Frost. The shot was deflected in by Samantha Koterwas into the left side of the goal.

The Hubs tried to protect the lead, but gave the score back in the 46th minute. North tried to move downfield after defending a corner kick and lost Beliveau in the transition, allowing her to squirt the ball into an open net.

"We were trying to set up an offsides trap," Aleshire said. "We shouldn't have done that. We are not a defensive team and that got us in trouble. Technically, Poolesville moved the ball better than we did."

The Falcons methodically created offensive opportunities and compacted the Hubs into the defensive end, but Poolesville had trouble getting off shots.

And the apprehension ended up being the best thing in the eyes of a Tiger.

"I knew these girls had my back," Irving said. "I heard them calling my name over on the bench and in the stands. We've been through a lot and we are really close."

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