South River was dominant in winning its second straight Maryland 4A field hockey title Monday. After its 3-0 win over Springbrook in the final, the No. 7-ranked Seahawks had outscored their five playoff opponents by a combined score of 15-2 and did not trail throughout the postseason.
Now here's the scary part for the opposition: The pieces are in place for the Seahawks (16-3-1) to be even better next season.
They graduate only five seniors and bring back their assist leader, Molly Gregoire; their top scorer, Abigail McNair; their starting goalie, Virginia Jorden; and all but one defender.
"We don't want to stop doing it," McNair said. "Being able to do it for a second year, we just want to keep winning every year."
It figured to be a significant obstacle that South River was so young this season. But the Seahawks were forced to grow up pretty quickly, lest they struggle with a highly competitive schedule.
They played No. 2 Severna Park twice, No. 9 Broadneck, No. 5 Quince Orchard, Chesapeake and Baltimore-area power Bryn Mawr during the regular season. By the time they dropped a 3-2 decision to Severna Park in the county championship game, the Seahawks were prepared for the playoffs.
"It really benefits us to play the good teams," Coach Katie Corcoran said. "The better [the] teams we play, the better we do. It helps us get better in the end. And really, playoffs are what counts."
Bruins Shoot for a First
It wasn't the way he wanted his season to end, and his teammates agreed. So down by a goal to Magruder in the 4A boys' state soccer semifinals, Broadneck senior Brendan O'Leary and his teammates pressed hard. They got behind Magruder's defenders for the first time and then scored the tying goal, by defender Matt Peyton, after a throw-in from deep in Magruder territory by Brendan Rowe with 15 minutes to play.
"Everyone was going nuts, everyone was going out of their minds, just exhausted," said O'Leary of his team's desperation surge. "Everyone went in as hard as they could after the ball."
Peyton's goal was the second of his career, and it sent the game into overtime. It was during overtime that the Bruins won the game, 2-1, after a goal on a header by Jamie Flewellyn eight minutes into the extra period.
With the win, the Bruins will have a chance to claim their first state title when they take on Sherwood at the 4A boys' state championship at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
"Team is most definitely the underlying theme for this group," Coach Sean Tettemer said. "They all work hard for one another."
O'Leary, one of 11 seniors on the team, was still in disbelief more than a day after the game had been decided.
"It's really indescribable," O'Leary said of the Bruins' first trip to the championship game since 1990, when his coach was playing for the team. "I would have never thought that we would be this good after how we played last year. Playing this long has been one of greatest feelings ever."
An nine-game unbeaten streak met a seven-game win streak Saturday, and the seven-game win streak came out on top.
After being tied 1-1 at halftime, Chesapeake allowed three goals before time expired, losing to Whitman in the 4A girls' soccer semifinals, 4-1.
The Cougars were on a roll going into the playoffs, winning a share of the county title by tying Severna Park, a game that showed Coach Jerry McBee what he wanted to see.
"In all sports the big 'W,' the want, has to be there for you to succeed," McBee said. "They told me after the Severna Park loss [2-1 early in the season] that they wanted to play Severna Park again. I told them there was only one way to do that and that's play in the county championship. We got it together and everything fell in place."
The Cougars, who had a revolving door on the sideline of each game as players subbed in and out repeatedly, used their fresh legs and speed to tire opponents and finish with a 14-4-1 record.
"By far this group is much better than anything I've seen come out of this school talent-wise, speed-wise and cohesiveness of team," said McBee.
Though the Cougars will lose five starters to graduation, returning will be two of their main cogs, junior Amanda Pappas and sophomore Sarah Jessilonis. Pappas had seven goals on the season, coming up from the rear on dead balls; Jessilonis was the team's leading scorer, with 12 goals and two assists.
"I think we should be okay" next season, Jessilonis said. "A bunch of our seniors did really good this year. Hopefully we'll have people step up to fill their spots."
Said Pappas of the season: "A lot of people overlook girls' soccer. We didn't expect ourselves to be as good. This shows sports other than football at our school can be good. It showed we have a lot of heart and that we wanted to accomplish things."
Another Semifinal Berth
Junior Tyler Phillips served 11 straight points for the South River girls' volleyball team in its fourth game of the 4A East Region championship Friday, launching South River into the final game with the momentum in its home gym.
The only problem was that the Seahawks were facing Broadneck, the defending 4A state champions, who know about loss, struggle and winning.
The Bruins' experience and unruffled nature proved too much for the Seahawks, and for the third time this season, the Bruins pulled out a win over South River, bouncing the Seahawks from the playoffs and starting them on a rebuilding mission.
South River will lose nine seniors, including senior hitter Paige Watson, one of the most talented players in the county. In the final match of her career, Watson pounded out 10 kills and was 10 of 11 serving, giving yet another performance that didn't surprise, but rather reassured others of her talent.
"Paige, she demonstrated the level of play that I would want to see [players have] for me," said Broadneck Coach Romonzo Beans. "She handled herself well on the court when we're out there and we're watching teams, who's moving well, who's mixing it up well. I felt that Paige mixed shots up well. She's got a good view of the court."
Senior Liz O'Dell (12 kills, 10 digs) also had a good game for the Seahawks, who hung in the match after dropping the first two games.
"Their defense is good," said Beans. "They cover a lot of area on the court. They adapted well."
South River Coach Maureen Carter, though saddened by the defeat, is upbeat about next season, and looking forward to getting another group of young players back on the court. Phillips and part-time setter Bekka Litz will most likely be key players for the Seahawks next season.
As for this season, Carter was proud of her team's effort.
"The seniors really wanted it bad," Carter said of beating Broadneck. "That's what they wanted the most, that would have made it a perfect season. We just couldn't do it. We still had a great season."
The Bruins took on Gaithersburg in the state semifinals Tuesday at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum, a match that ended too late for this edition. If winners, the Bruins will compete for their fourth state title at 8:30 p.m. today.