When St. Stephen's/St. Agnes field hockey coach Marsha Way is wringing her hands, scrunching her face and yelling at the top of her lungs for a goal, in the back of her mind she believes senior All-Met midfielder Jennifer Holden will answer the call.
At the Roland Park Country School Invitational on Saturday, Holden did just that when she ripped home the game-winning goal against fourth-ranked Bethesda-Chevy Chase with 3 minutes 53 seconds remaining, giving the Saints a 1-0 victory in their season opener.
Holden's goal, which came off an assist from junior midfielder Carter Foote following a penalty corner, punctuated a remarkably close opening game for the No. 3 Saints.
After sophomore forward Michaela O'Toole rang a shot off the right post with a little more than five minutes remaining before the first half, the young and slightly inexperienced Saints seemed to slowly right themselves.
"It took us a while to get it together today because we are young and we had had just one scrimmage before this game," Way said. "We were a little discombobulated in the first half and then it started getting better near the end of the half and we could finally play our own game."
The Saints played a second game on Saturday, falling 1-0 to host Roland Park. Despite out-shooting the Reds 8-7, Holden had the Saints' best chance to score on a penalty shot midway through the second half. But Roland Park senior captain goalkeeper Shannon Clark made the save with her feet.
"Just when you think you got it and you are there, you're not," Way said of the Saints, who won the Independent School League championship last season but graduated several of their key defensive members. "But I think this is a great wakeup call for us. Absolutely."
Severna Park also participated in the four-team tournament and started the day by defeating Roland Park, 4-0. Led by senior attack Sam Price (three goals, one assist in the tournament), the top ranked and defending Maryland 3A champion Falcons went on to win, 4-1, later in the day against B-CC.
"We definitely came out strong because these are like two of the toughest teams we face all season," Price said of the Falcon, who improved to 3-0. "Our team is one of the strongest teams we've had in years because of [nine] seniors and we all play really well together."