Broadneck's young field hockey team -- only three players are back from the 2003 squad -- rode an emotional roller coaster this past week.
On Friday, the Bruins took a 5-0 record into a home game against Spalding, but the winning streak seemed in jeopardy when Spalding scored five minutes into the contest for a one-goal lead that it held late in the second half.
Cue Lindsay Rawley. The Broadneck junior, the team's leading scorer, tied the game off a penalty corner with just over nine minutes left, then deflected in the game-winner out of a scrum in front of the cage with 2 minutes 53 seconds to play. Broadneck sophomore goalkeeper Rachel Sandifer, in her first true test of the season, made 18 saves in a 2-1 victory.
"Unfortunately, we're a second-half team," said Rawley (10 goals, 6 assists this year). "We go into a game thinking we're going to win and we don't go at it with our all in the beginning. Then we realize we have to score some goals, and just start hammering them in."
Three days later, though, Broadneck couldn't sustain that magic against its biggest rival, defending 3A state champion and No. 1-ranked Severna Park. The Falcons (8-0) dominated throughout, winning 8-0 behind two goals each from junior Tara Gardner and senior Abbi Horn.
"It was a mental thing. We let them get in our heads," said Rawley. "Once they started scoring goals we couldn't get it back. We didn't play like we did against Spalding."
One bright spot in the Severna Park loss was Sandifer, who again made 18 saves -- several of them impressive -- against a barrage of 41 shots. But she acknowledged that she was "nervous" in her first game against the renowned Falcons.
"I expected to do better than I did," she said. "I lost my head after about the third goal. Once we score, we dominate, but we just didn't get that [initial] goal."
Meanwhile, Severna Park's newest front-line player, Gardner, has become quite a scoring force. She has already tallied 16 goals and five assists.
"I try to pull the defense out wide, and at the last second I'll cut in," Gardner said. "I can't stay on the post the whole time because I'll be marked [by a defender]."
South River Grows
South River dropped a 1-0 decision to Spalding in its season opener, but has since won six straight, including Monday's 5-1 victory over Meade. Sophomore Molly Gregoire had two goals and junior Jill Hodges had another, giving her six goals (tied with senior Shannon Long for the team lead) this season.
But the Seahawks' forte might just be its defense. With first-year varsity defenders Hope Batista (freshman), Heather Bresnahan (sophomore) and Kelly Patterson (junior) teaming with senior Jen Collins -- who missed nearly all of last season with a broken foot -- South River has not allowed many shots to even reach goalie Irene Jorden. The Seahawks have yielded only three goals all season.
"We're very young -- a lot of sophomores and juniors -- but I think we're getting there," said Coach Laura Hoffner when asked about the team's level of play approaching the halfway point of the season. "We had a little halftime chat [in the Meade game, ahead only 1-0] on what we needed to improve on, and it helped because we played better in the second half."
South River will get its biggest test of the season Monday when it plays at Severna Park at 5:15 p.m. The two teams last met in the Anne Arundel County championship last October, won by Severna Park, 2-1.