With time winding down during the second overtime in Leonardtown's opening game against Thomas Stone, Raiders Coach Jennifer Henderson couldn't help but think that she had seen all of this before.
A year ago, a season-opening tie against the Cougars was the only blemish on both Leonardtown and Thomas Stone's Southern Maryland Athletic Conference records, and the teams shared the regular season conference championship.
But minutes before the end of this season's opener, Raiders freshman midfielder Kaitlin Devine sent a free kick into the net for a 2-1 victory and, more important, an early edge on their rivals.
"It was a big win for us over Stone," Henderson said. "The game could have gone either way, and we were lucky to come out with the win."
The victory was an encouraging sign for the Raiders (3-2 overall, 3-0 SMAC), perennially one of the SMAC's strongest teams, who face the task of incorporating six new starters into the lineup this year.
Devine's heroics weren't the only positive that came out of the win for Leonardtown. The defense is adjusting to a new formation that consists of a single defensive line, as opposed to last year's sweeper system. Junior Kelsey Stauff made her debut at goalie and showed that she is up to the challenge, turning away Thomas Stone standout Shavon Knight on multiple occasions.
"The girls are working well together as a team," Henderson said. "People are learning their roles."
Leonardtown followed its victory over the Cougars with a 3-0 win against Great Mills before dropping games in the Kenwood Tournament to the Institute of Notre Dame and Eastern Tech. The Raiders rebounded with a 4-1 victory over McDonough on Sept. 13.
One problem the team faces is long layoffs between games. After the McDonough game, the Raiders' next game, against La Plata, was postponed. The Raiders will next take the field against Patuxent on Sept. 28.