Many thought it was an upset, but not Old Mill boys' soccer coach Jeff Martin. To him, the 1-0 overtime win over Severna Park simply showed that the Patriots are still strong and talented despite the loss of seven seniors to graduation last year and the transfer of a key player.
"Obviously, Severna Park thought very highly of itself coming in, and some people didn't think we'd be as good," Martin said. "All along we thought we had a pretty good team that would be able to compete."
Among the players lost to graduation was Alex Buchholz, who also played baseball and basketball. He amassed eight goals and five assists last soccer season. Also gone is Andrew Bulls, who transferred to McDonogh after recording eight goals and eight assists in 2004.
With that much offensive production gone, the team is struggling to score. The team was scoreless until the second minute of overtime against Severna Park and until a penalty kick with two minutes left in regulation against South River.
Both of those game-winning goals belonged to senior midfielder Andrew Engel. In the South River game, Martin said, Engel was about six yards from the goal when he was brought down by two South River defenders. The penalty kick gave Old Mill the win and, in Martin's words, pulled the Patriots out of a game that they should have lost by two or three goals.
"I felt relief because we had played terrible," Martin said. "I thought we were really flat coming off the Severna Park win. . . . They had some very good opportunities that they didn't finish. They outplayed us, but our guys found a way to pull out a win or steal a win."
For the team to go farther, Martin said, the offense must start producing more. A possible move for the Patriots would be switching Morgan Midgett from sweeper back to forward, where he played last season. That may occur today against Arundel.
"Arundel is a great offensive team, and they're going to score some goals," Martin said. "If we're going to compete, we can't depend on our defense to pull us through every game."
River Hill Reverses Course
An early season loss to Spalding seems to have turned around the South River volleyball team. Since then, the team has practiced harder and had success, including three-game wins over Arundel and Thomas Stone from Southern Maryland to add to a sweep over Old Mill.
"This is not the team that played Spalding," South River Coach Maureen Carter said after the Arundel game. "The girls have a lot of confidence in themselves. . . . . Things are starting to flow, starting to work well together."
Players working well for the Seahawks are seniors Paige Watson, Megan Pearson and Liz O'Dell.
"Paige can explode. She has that explosive hit and jump that wows you," Carter said. "O'Dell is real nice and steady. She's not going to be flashy, but she's going to be nice and steady. She's not too hard of a hitter but a smart hitter. The same with Megan. She has a nice hit when you need it and a nice tip when you need it. . . . They're all putting in their own little piece."
But Carter is depending on more than those three players to do well and will most likely need more than those players to conquer the county and state. To prepare for the tough late season matchups and the playoffs, the Seahawks will play in the North Caroline Tournament this weekend.
"Lots of heavy hitters we don't face during the year go there," Carter said. "I go there and worry that I can hang."