Regional champions. For the second time in the last three years, the Lady Cougars are heading to the state playoffs. This time thanks to a 2-0 win against Urbana, a team they hadn’t played in two years.
They got to this game after a scare against rivals Wootton in the second round of the playoffs. It was 0-0 after two overtimes until sophomore Carli Sullenger, who has already committed to West Point, was able to finish it off with a deadly penalty kick to the right side of the net.
It was a much easier win against Urbana in the regional finals than the week before.
The Cougars dominated the first 10 minutes of the game, controlling possession for what seemed like at least 70 percent of the game. Then at 7:09 into the game, Natalie Price was able to slot one in past Urbana’s star goalie Grayson Jons after a beautiful long ball from Syracuse commit and center-back Lindsey Brick.
“It was very important because it sets the stage for us,” Carli Sullenger said of the early goal. She noted that it caused Urbana to get off of their game and start forcing long balls.
Teams playing the long ball against QO is something they are used to, Coach Peg Keiller noted. “We have faced a lot of teams that have played with the long ball. If you watch us during pregame you can see how we work on having one player control and having the rest support her,” she said.
On her long ball game, sophomore defender Rachel Swartz said, “I just try to keep the offensive player in front of me and communicate with my teammates to clear the ball.”
QO had only one scare in the regional final. Early in the second half Paige McNeal, QO’s goalie, dropped a high shot into the box. Faith Lane, the QO fullback, was able to clear it out—and QO never looked back after that.
QO finished off the first half with a last-second goal from Mackenzie Ferguson off of an amazing cross in for Grace Soler.
The Cougars went on to control the remainder of the game.
The Cougars finished the game, winning 2-0, to move on to the state quarterfinals.
With the new Maryland Secondary Schools Athletic Association playoff format, a regional final is not the same as it was in the past. The area’s four regions are now split up into eight, with those eight winners being reseeded in the state playoffs—something that is new to this year.
QO is expected to have a home game in the state quarterfinals before the state semifinals at Gaithersburg High School and ensuing state finals at Loyola University.