FROSTBURG — Brunswick took the utmost advantage of a Mountain Ridge lapse and the Miners couldn’t catch a break as the Railroaders won their second straight Maryland 1A West Region title with a 3-1 win over the Miners on a cold, dark evening in Frostburg.
Dara Demich scored a pair of goals within a minute and a half of each other in the first half and assisted on the goal in the second half to send Brunswick into the Maryland State Tournament for the second straight year.
The Miners struggled to sustain any sort of pressure out of the gate, going the first 30 minutes without troubling the Railroaders goalie too much. Mountain Ridge’s defense was tough early on as well, not allowing any clear shots, but unable to keep Brunswick off its side of the field.
Once Demich got started, she stayed active all night. Of Brunswick’s 14 shots, she had 10 of them by herself and helped to create most of the others. After firing a few salvos that were either stopped by Mountain Ridge’s Chelsea Muir or just wide, Demich found herself on a breakaway and was able to slip a shot past Muir with 25:43 remaining in the opening half.
The Railroaders kept the pressure up following the first goal and took a 2-0 lead when Nicole Parsons threw in to Demich and she rocketed one into the upper corner on the far side of the goal with 24:20 left.
“They kept us away from our game by continually playing the ball in the air. We keep it on the ground and it took some time to adjust to that fact,” said Martha Mauzy, Mountain Ridge’s head coach.
“It’s hard to come back from two goals against a good team. They got ahead of us and did a good job of doing enough to stay there.”
The Miners first real look at a score came inside of 10 minutes left when Madison Offstein charged towards the goal, but Brunswick's Maddie Wheeler cleared the ball to thwart the threat.
Mountain Ridge had a another chance seconds later, but suffered a little misfortune when a shot bounced off the Brunswick goalie’s hands and was set up in front of an open goal.
Unfortunately for the Miners, no one in a white-colored jersey was near the ball and Brunswick cleared it once again.
“The ball definitely didn’t bounce our way, but it’s not an excuse. Those things are part of the game and have gone our way in the past.”
The second half was a different story for the Miners as Mountain Ridge controlled the pace for most of the 40 minutes.
“I thought we outplayed them in the second half after we got back to playing more of our style of game. All they really had in the second half was one breakaway. I also thought Chelsea Muir had some clutch saves that kept us in the game.”
Muir finished with eight saves. Brunswick’s Emily Gutierrez had 10.
The Miners worked towards a goal for the opening 20 minutes of the second half and got a beautiful look when Annabelle Hegeman passed to Offstein, who then fed Lexi Metz and Metz sent a cross in front of the goal. It took another four minutes before the Miners were able to score when Offstein set up Metz with 11:20 left.
Demich took charge one last time and just long enough to break loose from the pack, putting the breaks on to cross up the Miner defenders and push the ball to Alex Eckenrode for the final goal with 7:40 left.
“She’s an outstanding player,” Mauzy said of Demich.
“She showed a lot of her skills out there, and she really had a heck of a foot. She was getting shots from over 30 yards.”
The Miners got close to scoring a couple of times over the final seven minutes, but the Railroaders held off the advance.
Brunswick climbs above .500 for the first time all season by improving to 9-8-1. The Railroaders will play Sparrows Point on Saturday at North County High School in the State semifinals.
Mountain Ridge finishes 14-2-1.
“We had a really great season, led by three senior captains,” Mauzy said. “I am very proud of the season we had and this group of girls. They were a joy to work with.
“Many of our players are also involved in basketball and/or soccer and have gotten to experience a lot of good times over the past few years. They’ve had their share of heartbreak, too, but it doesn’t take away from what this group of girls has done.”
Chris Appel is a sportswriter for the Times-News. Contact him at email@example.com