When the referee's whistle ended a 1-1 draw between South River and Severna Park in girls' soccer last week, the two teams had far different reactions to the outcome.
Many South River players flashed ear-to-ear grins and congratulated each other for an inspired effort. It was a stark contrast to Severna Park's players, many of whom headed to the sideline with heads hung low, knowing they'd squandered an opportunity for a victory over an opponent they haven't defeated in six years.
The Seahawks huddled in one corner of the field and accepted praise from Coach Mike Aman after tying the game with seven minutes 19 seconds remaining in regulation after Severna Park took the lead 12 minutes earlier. Aman raved about his team's perseverance against the host Falcons, a team expected to be the county's best after South River graduated its top three scorers from last season, including All-Met Rachel Fry.
"I'll take this tie with Severna Park, because we played with the passion we needed to," Aman said. "This showed our team we have what it takes to come back against a very good team, and I think it does a lot for our confidence."
On the other side of the field, the Falcons silently headed inside the school to meet in a classroom. Severna Park, which lost to South River, 2-1, last year, is 0-4-3 against the Seahawks since 2000.
"Our team was extremely disappointed," said Coach Gary Lam. "There's clearly a difference when you come from behind to tie a game than when you are the team that scores first and can't take care of the lead. It's one thing to play the best you can for 100 minutes and not have the bounces go your way, but it's another thing to be disorganized and not take advantage of your opportunities. We don't expect to do anything but win, and that's not being arrogant in any way, that's just our expectation."
How the outcome will affect the big picture is unclear. Both South River (1-2-1 overall, 1-0-1 league entering the week) and Severna Park (3-0-2, 1-0-1) still have to play Broadneck, Chesapeake and defending county champion Old Mill, but players from both teams have theories.
Severna Park junior forward Emily Zido, who gave her team a 1-0 lead with 19:44 remaining, said the tie could ultimately be a positive if it taught the Falcons they can't let up until the final whistle.
"We have to realize that when we take a lead, the game is not over," she said. "We had a great chance to finally beat South River, but they came back on us. It was a tough game because we had so many chances but we couldn't finish them."
South River sophomore goalie Danielle Estill said the way her team responded showed that the Seahawks are starting to resemble last year's squad. That team established itself as one of the best in school history by reaching the 4A state final, where it lost to Whitman in overtime, 2-1.
"When you get scored on there are two things you can do: You can stop playing and give up like the game is over, or you can stick together and come back," Estill said. "I think we showed against Severna Park that we have great team unity because we never gave up."
South River scored the equalizing goal when a Severna Park defender decided to gain possession of the ball instead of clearing it, which allowed freshman forward Sarah Pfundstein to knock the ball into the penalty box.
Pfundstein, who never broke stride, outran three defenders and senior goalie Kelsy Ferris to the ball to record her first high school goal with 7:19 remaining. The score remained tied through 20 minutes of sudden-victory overtime.
"It was a race to the ball and I chased it down," Pfundstein said. "It couldn't have happened at a better time. I watched South River play a couple of times last year, and I think we can be better than they were last year."