Broadneck beat Sherwood in last year’s Maryland 4A/3A state championship. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

As seconds ticked away on the scoreboard above the South River turf on a frigid night in Edgewater, Broadneck midfielder and Princeton recruit Ellie McNulty ran. She ran left, she ran right, she ran behind the goal and then to the corner, through four or five defenders and back again, engaged in a high-stakes game of keep away, trying to run down the clock as her Bruins (1-1) clung to a one-goal lead that hadn’t come easily.

South River greeted Broadneck rudely in the game’s first 20 minutes, jumping out to a four-goal lead thanks to two goals from Maryland commit Kacie Longo and great faceoff work from Penn State commit Madison Carter. But in a game between two of Anne Arundel County’s big three (Broadneck, South River, Severna Park) — a trio that has produced every Maryland 4A/3A state champion since 2007 — Division I-bound talent frequents all corners of the field and no lead is safe.

And so it was Wednesday, as the Bruins scored three unanswered goals heading into and out of halftime, then Longo fed Anna Wolfe to stop the bleeding. Broadneck scored two more to tie, then the battle ensued: the teams traded goals until Jacksonville commit Natalie Hendricks scored two in a row to give the Bruins their first lead with 12 minutes to play. Longo answered with a beautiful shot on a free space goal. Another tie.

Eventually, the Bruins tallied two goals and the Seahawks could only answer with one, propelling Broadneck to an 11-10 win. Hendricks and Carter had battled on faceoffs all night and Longo had set up South River’s offense throughout. McNulty had been at the center of Broadneck’s offense all evening, finishing with a goal and nearly 30 seconds of frantic possession at the end. The Bruins, defending 4A/3A state champions, needed the win to avoid going 0-2 after a similar rally fell short against Severna Park on Monday.

“We’ve found that we have slow starts, but by the end of the first half they get angry enough that they start doing the things they’re supposed to be doing,” said first-year Broadneck Coach Katy Kelley, who inherits just three of last year’s starters. “I think our senior leaders step up their play and everyone responds to that.”

Because of a new league setup, the game is one of two Broadneck and South River will play in the regular season this year, one more than the big three are used to battling through against each other before playoff time. Those leaders, Hendricks and McNulty among them, will battle with Longo and Severna Park seniors like Sarah Childress, Kelsey Kirk and Virginia-bound goalie Rachel Vander Kolk all season and deep into the playoffs for a chance to go out with a state title.

“It’s going to be tough,” McNulty said. “Especially starting off with two games against these two teams. But we’re excited to get the opportunity to play them twice in the regular season. We’re really looking forward to it.”