Team captain Anabel Jimenez takes a shot in the first half
The final match of the Maryland Capitols’ inaugural season was plagued with delays, but the home team nevertheless managed to come away with a 2-0 win over the visiting Penn Legacy Inferno, thanks to a considerable extent to a sterling performance in goal by Hanit Schwarz.
The result assured the Capitols of at least a #3 seed in the upcoming Northeast Atlantic Conference playoffs, giving them a first-round match at home.
Schwarz made her first big save in the tenth minute, diving to knock aside an Inferno shot.
The first stoppage came in the 19th minute, as defender Bailey Bodell knocked heads with a teammate. The other player was tended to on the sideline, but an ambulance was called for Bodell, who was taken to the hospital and had six staples put in her scalp. Word is that she’s fine.
Not what you want to see, but fortunately Bailey Bodell is making a good recovery
Less than four minutes after play resumed, a lightning bolt was clearly visible to the northeast, and the referee suspended play. Rules are that there has to be at least half-an-hour without lightning in the area, and fortunately this time that was the only occurrence, so play resumed after half-an-hour.
Kaley Blades leads a Maryland attack
In the 27th minute the Capitols would notch their first goal as the stellar Kaley Blades brought the ball down the left side of the field and sent in a cross for Diana Barrera, who would send it into the upper part of the netting.
Three minutes later Schwarz would again redirect a Penn Legacy attempt, this time sending it off the right post and wide.
Four minutes after that, another bolt lit up the field, and play was halted. This time it brought some friends as the restart clock had to be reset three times before the game finally resumed around 6:40 pm.
In the 37th minute – about four minutes after play resumed – Emily Harvey was at the receiving end of a nice give-and-go near the top of the box, but her shot went right to the goalkeeper.
Shortly afterwards, Schwarz had to chase down a horrible back pass that narrowly missed resulting in an own goal and did result in a corner kick.
Maryland defender Kayla Clarke went down in the 42nd minute with a leg injury, and play stopped for several minutes while she was seen to and helped off the field.
Forward Rachel McKee battles for the ball in the corner
The first-half whistle finally blew at 6:59 pm, almost three hours after the opening kickoff. Blessedly, as there had been so many breaks already, halftime was a mere five minutes, and the game resumed at 7:05 pm.
Five minutes in, Schwarz would make another save. After that, the Capitols seemed to take control of the match. Blades had a shot in the 51st minute that bounced off the top left corner of the framework, then a long one in the 59th minute that was saved.
This Diana Barrera shot would go in after a defender ran onto it
The Capitols would score in the 65th minute as Diana Barrera beat her defender on the left side and slid a sharply angled shot past the goalkeeper that looked to be heading just clear of the right post when an Inferno defender ran into it and sent it into the net. It was scored as an own goal.
Maryland would control most of the run of the play the rest of the match, though all their shots either went wide or right to the ‘keeper. Penn Legacy’s last good chance would come on an 83rd minute breakaway, but Schwarz came out to cut off the angle, and the shot went wide left.
The final whistle blew around 7:50 pm for a match that began promptly at 4.
Leading scorer Ali Andrzejewski chases down a ball
The Capitols celebrated the end of a successful regular season. They finished with a 7-1-2 record and 23 standings points in their first year. But for a storm-shortened loss to the Tidewater Sharks on the last day of June when they were without some key players, they might well have gone undefeated and claimed the conference’s #1 seed as the only team to do so.
There’s still one relevant match left, but unless there’s a huge upset the playoffs look to be as follows:
– Maryland will host the Syracuse Lady Knights (the #6 seed) on Saturday, July 14, at 7 pm at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex.
– With a win, they would go on the road to face the #2 seeded New York Athletic Club the evening of Wednesday, July 18.
– With a win there, they would most likely face the #1 seeded Aztec MA near Boston on Sunday, July 22.
– However, if the Aztec lose their midweek match, the Capitols would become the top remaining seed and host the conference championship that same day.
– Regardless, winning the conference means a trip to Orlando to play in the WPSL Final Four the weekend of July 28.
The only disappointing news is that the two injured Caps players, Bailey Bodell and Kayla Clarke, will not be able to return for the playoffs, something of a blow since they’re both regular parts of the team’s back line. Head coach Dave Jones has, however, signed additional players including Jackie Desjardin, Allison Diaz, and Katie Kelly, and is working on ensuring that players on the current roster who are seldom available, like Remi Kriz and Emily Janss, will be able to fill in.