As the final whistle blew on the field at Gaithersburg High School on Saturday, November 9th on a cold evening, the Blazers came up just short of a first ever trip to a Maryland State Final. The game was a rollercoaster of emotions, filled with tension, pressure, drama, and courage. The opponent, Perry Hall, were the defending Maryland State 4A Champions and they were looking to go back-to-back with speed at every position on the field. The game started, with both teams playing a little tight. Each team had a couple of half chances, with Blair’s best opportunity coming when senior tri-captain Noa Dorah flashed down the right side and fired a shot toward the Perry Hall goal. The goalkeeper came out to cut down the angle, and the shot glanced off of her shin and went out for a corner kick. But the Gators soon used their aggressive defending and their transition game to put the Blazers on the back foot. They had several quality chances which were saved by senior goalkeeper Zoe Abramson or sent harmlessly over the crossbar. But their pressure finally paid dividends in the twentieth minute, when a powerful shot from about 20 yards out ricocheted off the crossbar, angled down off of Abramson’s upper back, and trickled into the net as she tried to react to what had happened. Five minutes later, disaster would strike, when a Perry Hall player with the ball backed into Dorah at the midfield stripe in front of the stands, sending Blair’s leading goalscorer (19 goals and 11 assists in 2019) to the turf in great pain. After a long delay, Dorah was carried back to the Blazer bench where she would remain for the rest of the game, with a season-ending knee injury. The Gators continued with some pressure, but the Blazer defense settled in and stiffened for the rest of the half. Down 1-0 at half, knowing that the team’s biggest offensive threat was out, it would have been easy to give up against arguably the best 4A team in the state. But a team with this kind of leadership, character, and determination was not going to go quietly. The second half still tilted in Perry Hall’s favor, but not by as much as it had in the first. The Blazers managed to get the ball in to some dangerous spaces, but they never had a good opportunity to finish. Then came the game’s second cruel moment, when senior Dede Greenfield was shown a straight red card by the center official for “foul and abusive language” after she felt that she had been fouled by a Perry Hall player. This is the first time a Blair Girls Soccer player has been shown a straight red card and only the second time that one has been red carded. To say that the decision was harsh would be an understatement, but like it or not, the Blazers would have to play the final 18 minutes with 10 players. The team stepped it up at that point and played its best soccer of the night. It was hard to tell that Blair was playing short, and the team was able to get off several good shots on goal. But an equalizer was not to be, and although the Blazers fought valiantly until the end, they came up on the wrong end of a 1-0 score. Abramson has a spectacular night between the posts, the defense (sophomore Ali Freeman-O’Neill, and juniors Elise Kinyanjui, Indigo Suchar, and Jadyn Harvey) absorbed attack after attack from Perry Hall. The midfielders were stalwarts as well, with senior tri-captains Janie Pitner and Rachel Day patrolling the middle of the field all game, and juniors Sophie Kim and Emilie Vigliotta nailing down the flanks. After the handshakes, the Blazers crossed the field to take one last curtain call in front of a huge assemblage of Blazer fans, who came out on this cold Saturday night to support the team. After this, an emotional Coach Gibb addressed his team down on the far corner of the field. Choked up partly from the sadness of a magical season’s abrupt end, concern over Dorah’s injury, and the final soccer game for 10 wonderful and amazing seniors, there was mostly an intense feeling of pride in a group of players who came together with a sense of purpose, with love and respect for each other, and with a list of accomplishments in Blair Girls Soccer History that is unmatched.
- 1 Perry Hall High School
- 0 Montgomery Blair High School
|Perry Hall High School||vs||Montgomery Blair High School|