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Season ‘went amazing,’ Berke says

(Nov. 7, 2014) If the Lady Seahawks were going to lose, they wanted to leave it all on the field, and they did just that, Stephen Decatur girls’ soccer Coach Maggie Berke said.

Berke thought the Seahawks played extremely well and worked as a unit during last Thursday’s 3A South Region Section I finals against the Northern Patriots of Calvert County.

“We went up against a stronger and more conditioned team. That’s just the way it rolls sometimes,” Berke said after Decatur’s 3-1 loss. “If they were going to go out, they wanted to go out strong. One of their goals was to end on a positive. They feel like they gave everything they could have in that game.”

Third-seeded Northern scored within the first 10 minutes of the match in Berlin. Decatur senior captain Payton VanKirk netted the equalizer 22 minutes before halftime off a cross from her sister, Lexie, a sophomore.

Both teams had several opportunities to score throughout the second half. Northern broke the tie with 7:23 remaining in the competition. The Patriots tallied their third goal with 5:40 on the clock.

Decatur junior goalie Lexi Gausepohl finished the game with seven saves.

Top-seeded Decatur advanced to the 3A South Region Section I finals after shutting out the No. 5 Northeast Eagles of Anne Arundel, 3-0, two days earlier.

Scoreless at halftime, Decatur senior captain Jillian Petito put her team on the board with 24 minutes left in the contest. P. VanKirk gave the Seahawks a two-goal cushion with five minutes to play. Junior Alexis McDonough scored the home team’s third goal with 3:33 remaining.

Gausepohl stopped 12 Eagles’ shots.

“They played hard and they all gave everything they had,” Berke said.

The Seahawks had a stellar season, finishing 13-1-1.

“The season overall went amazing. I don’t think it could have gone any better,” said the first-year head coach. “We were undefeated up until the tournament. We lost to a strong team.”

Berke was the head coach of Decatur’s girls’ JV team last year. At the end of her team’s season, she assisted Coach Misty Bunting with the varsity squad during its playoff run. Having the opportunity to work with the girls and getting to know them was beneficial coming into this season.

Berke knew she inherited a talented team, but she said she wasn’t sure how well the new coaching staff and players would mesh. She was pleasantly surprised.

The girls and their parents embraced what the coaching staff did this season. Berke expected some bumps in the road, she said, but everything ran fairly smoothly.

“It was a much better season than I expected,” she said. “I had a lot of support behind me.”

The team will graduate six seniors in May, most of whom were key contributors.

“We’ll lose some strength, but if we work hard we can make up for it,” Berke said. “I think we have some younger players who are ready to step up into bigger roles.”

Stephen Decatur junior Peyton Townsend maintains possession of the ball during last Thursday’s 3A South Region Section I finals against Northern of Calvert County.

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